Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Did you know gum disease is a common side effect of diabetes?

Symptoms like bleeding gums are an indication you should see your dentist right away.
Ultimately, tooth loss can occur.

There are ways to ways to keep your teeth healthy while with living with diabetes.

Those living with diabetes are three times more likely to get gum disease than healthy people.

"Diabetes changes the way the body reacts to bacteria," says Dr. Robert Gyurko of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston. "We all have bacteria in our mouths and it's a matter of keeping it in a balance."

Dr. Gyurko is a periodontist at Tufts.

He says diabetes essentially overtaxes and thus weakens the immune system.

In the mouth, that can lead to gingivitis.

In a worst case scenario, Dr. Gyurko says, gum disease can lead to loss of teeth. How do diabetics best prevent that from happening?
"The number one thing they have to do is to control their blood glucose."

Dr. Gyurko says high blood sugar levels, carried to the mouth, result in inflammation of the gums.

Regular professional cleanings are definitely important…but what those with diabetes do every day can have a major impact.

Plaque is a bacterial film that must be mechanically removed by brushing and flossing. Gyurko says technique is more important than frequency.
"If you brush too hard. If you brush, God forbid, too often. You may actually damage your gums and the root of your teeth."

So brush gently after meals, or at least twice a day…using a soft toothbrush.

And don't forget to massage the gums with that brush, using gentle, circular motions.


(Jim Morelli for CNN's Health Minute)



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