How good oral health helps manage diabetes
The connection between your mouth and diabetes is simple. It’s a cycle. Manage your mouth and you help manage your diabetes. Here’s how it works.
Taking care of your mouth cuts down on germs that cause gum disease.
Having gum disease can raise your blood sugar.
Elevated blood sugar provides an ideal environment for germs.
More germs means an increased chance of gum disease (people with diabetes are 3x more likely to have gum disease). Notice how we’re back at the beginning of this cycle?
Like type 2 diabetes, gum disease is often silent, which means symptoms can be hard to detect. Here are the warning signs:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Mouth pain
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Mouth sores
- Persistent bad breath
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite, or a change in the fit of partial dentures.
The great news? There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid, and EVEN REVERSE, this cycle. You’re probably already doing some of them.
- Floss daily. Flossing tracks down and removes the pesky germs and food bits lurking between your teeth that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing cleans 40% of your teeth surfaces that brushing can’t reach.
- Snack smart. Grazing on sweet and sticky foods and drinks feeds the germs in your mouth leading to decay. When you snack, choose cheese, nuts, yogurt, lean meats, fruits, and veggies.. And eat your snack (or sweet drink) all at once rather than nibbling or sipping continuously throughout the day.
- Get your mouth checked. Make a visit to a dentist regularly for an oral health checkup. Checkups help spot problems early, such gum disease, which might affect your diabetes and your overall health. Prevention will save you money down the road.
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste strengthens teeth and helps clear the gum line of germs that build up, irritate and inflame. As an added bonus, every cavity prevented can save you up to $2,000 over your lifetime.
Now that you know how mighty your mouth is, keep up these simple tips to help make managing your diabetes a little easier.