What is plaque with diabetes?

If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for some oral health problems, including gum disease. As gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth, it is especially important to maintain a good oral health regiment, including brushing twice a day and limiting sugary foods.

Recent research suggests that the connection between gum disease and diabetes goes both ways. On the one hand, because of lowered resistance and a longer healing process, gum disease appears to be more frequent and more severe among those with diabetes. Conversely, it appears that treating gum disease in people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar control.
Plaque is a sticky coating of bacteria that sticks to the surfaces of the teeth. The bacteria accumulate naturally -- so brushing your teeth only removes the plaque temporarily. Plaque constantly forms, which is why daily oral care is so important to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque bacteria cause your gums to get inflamed, sore and bleed.  If plaque is not removed with brushing, it turns into a hard substance called tartar. While you can brush your teeth several times a day to remove plaque, you cannot remove the hardened tartar. Your dentist or dental hygienist has the knowledge and tools to remove tartar from your teeth. If the build-up of plaque isn't removed from the teeth, your gums will bleed with brushing. This mild form of gum disease is called gingivitis. Your dentist can explain how to treat gingivitis to keep it from worsening.

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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.