Even though it does not get talked about nearly enough, if you have prediabetes or diabetes, you need to know how diabetes attacks your teeth and what you can do to stop it.
Are you visiting your dentist every 6 months? In 2 weeks, I have my 6-month cleaning. Luckily, I have not had any problems for many years but as a kid I didn’t see a dentist until probably age 7 or 8 and I must not have had good habits for brushing my teeth, because I had about 8 teeth that needed fillings. Yikes!
Since then, I have thankfully not had many problems. But now, with having prediabetes, I need to be extra diligent about my dental care. Floss picks have become one of my favorite wellness tools over the past several years!
What is the connection between diabetes and dental health?
Having diabetes is one of the biggest risk factors for tooth decay and gum disease. Why?
Bacteria love sugar! And when blood sugar levels are above normal that means that every part of your body is exposed to extra sugar – including your mouth, gums, and teeth. So more sugar can lead to more bacteria and eventually infection, and that’s how diabetes attacks your teeth!
Too much bad bacteria can lead to inflammation of the gums, which is called gingivitis. When bacteria stay on your teeth it forms plaque, which hardens and can build up and spread below the gum line. At that point only a dental professional can remove the buildup called tartar and stop the disease process.
How do you know if you might have gum disease?
If you have any of these problems, it should be a warning sign of inflammation or infection. See a dentist!
- bad breath
- red, swollen or bleeding gums
- sensitive teeth, loose teeth, or painful chewing
- receding gums
But I wear dentures, so I don’t need to worry about problems with my teeth, right?
WRONG! If you have diabetes, you could be at higher risk for thrush, a yeast infection caused by overgrowth of candida, a fungus that is naturally in the mouth. Thrush can develop on the gums under the denture plate.
Ask your dentist how often they recommend you come in for a check.
What can you do to reduce your chance of gum and tooth problems?
- Keep blood sugars in best control you can
- See your dentist twice a year for cleaning and exam
- Brush and floss daily, using a soft toothbrush.
- If you wear dentures, clean them daily and take them out while sleeping to reduce the chance for thrush.
- And my favorite topic – NUTRITION. Do your best to eat and drink healthy with these strategies:
- Avoid juice and any other sweet drinks that are going to bathe your teeth and gums in sugar!
- Avoid snacking too often – the more often you eat between meals, the more likely you are to introduce acid attacks on your teeth.
- When you do snack, avoid hard or sticky sweets, and choose raw vegetables, fruits, yogurt and popcorn.
- Brush after sticky snacks, or at least rinse your mouth with water to get rid of food particles and excess sticky sugar.
- Get your calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.
- Good sources of calcium include dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese), as well as canned salmon, almonds and some dark green leafy vegetables.
- Healthy phosphorus foods are eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts and beans.
- Eat citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, spinach and other fruits and veggies that have vitamin C
You can also check refer to the American Dental Association site for more explanation of how diabetes attacks your teeth and how to prevent dental problems.
And if you are having trouble getting your blood sugars to target, contact Karen for more info on her 3-month program that could be your solution to hitting your A1c target!