How can I prevent gum disease if I have diabetes?

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Diabetes increases the risk of many types of infections, including periodontal disease (gum disease). Diabetics may have reduced resistance to infection. The abnormal blood sugar levels with diabetes can worsen periodontal disease, and interestingly, once you get severe gum disease, you may have a more difficult time controlling your blood glucose levels with diabetes.

To prevent gum disease, it's important to follow the rules for healthy oral hygiene. First, see your dentist for a check-up at least every six months or more often if that's what your dentist has recommended. Then, make sure you get your teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist to remove plaque and stains. Also, let the dentist and hygienist know that you have diabetes mellitus or any other health problem. At home, use daily self-care and brush and floss your teeth regularly. Use a toothpaste with ingredients that are antibacterial and help improve the health of your gums. Select a toothpaste that is recommended by the American Dental Association. Call your dentist at the first sign of gum disease, including red or puffy gums, gums that have pulled away from the teeth or a constant bad taste or bad breath.

Remember, there is a lot you can do to fight gum disease.

  • Keep your blood glucose under control
  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss your teeth every day
  • Look for early signs of gum disease (bleeding when you brush, swollen gums)
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year
Carol Jahn
Dentist

When you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for gum disease. There are two important ways you can help prevent it. One, see your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for a cleaning and exam. Due to your increased risk, you may need to see them as much as 4 times per year. They can advise you what is best based on your overall dental and medical status. Second, practice meticulous home care—brushing at least twice a day and cleaning between your teeth once daily. One product that may be good to include in your daily regimen is a Water Flosser. Research has shown that people with diabetes who used a Water Flosser had 44 percent less bleeding than people with diabetes who did not add a Water Flosser to their daily routine.

You can help avoid gum disease with good dental habits.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Floss often to remove plaque.
  • See a dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.
  • Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.