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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated more than 100 million Americans now have either diabetes or prediabetes. That’s nearly one-third of the country’s entire population. As you likely already know, diabetes inhibits the body’s production and/or use of insulin, which can lead to everything from a stroke to nerve damage if it’s not treated. Diabetes affects the entire body, including your mouth! Here are a few reasons to pay close attention to diabetes’ effect on your oral health.

Diabetes and Your Mouth

High levels of blood glucose can lead to the following oral issues:

  • Dry mouth: Dry mouth on its own can be uncomfortable, but it can also lead to infection and tooth decay.
  • Gum inflammation: Diabetic patients are more prone to periodontal disease (gum disease) and tooth decay due to the sugar levels and decreased tissue healing properties of the body.
  • Infections: Fungal infections, such as thrush, can impact both the mouth and tongue. Thrush typically grows in areas with high levels of sugar and it’s often common in those who aren’t receiving proper treatment for diabetes. It’s characterized by a burning feeling.

Managing Your Oral Health with Diabetes

The good news is when you’re equipped with the right information, caring for your teeth and gums while living with diabetes manageable. Though it may require some extra effort, it’s not difficult for someone living with a diabetes diagnosis to have just as healthy of a mouth as anyone else. Here’s a look at how to do it:

  • Commit to managing your diabetes: This basically involves keeping your blood sugar as normal as you possibly can, whether if it’s through your diet or prescribed medication.
  • See the dentist: Minimally, you should see a dentist at least twice a year, or once every six months. After informing your dentist of your diabetes diagnosis and any medications you’re taking, your dentist may suggest making more regular appointments. This may be especially true if you’re showing early signs of certain dental conditions.
  • Pay attention to your gums: Because diabetes patients are at an increased risk for gum inflammation, this aspect of oral care is very important. In addition to daily flossing, an antiseptic mouth rinse is a good way to keep your gums clean. Your dentist may also advise regular in-office gum cleanings.
  • Practice good oral hygiene: Minimally, you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. However, for those living with diabetes, brushing after every meal may be a better routine. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles, and, as we noted before, considering adding a mouth rinse to your routine to get that extra oomph of cleanliness. We also strongly advise you cut out any bad habits, like smoking.

For more information on how diabetes can impact your mouth and how you can better manage it, contact Kanehl Dental today.