Caring for Your Teeth and Gums

The sixth major complication of diabetesis periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease, or pyorrhea, is a painlessdisease of the supporting tissues of theteeth, gums and bones of the mouth.

It is estimated that 80 percent of theadult population in the United States hasperiodontal disease.

Once you have periodontal disease, it isalmost impossible to eradicate it completely.

However, with the help of your dentist andhygienist, you can slow down its progressionwith early detection and aggressivetreatment.

Aside from periodontal disease, the mouth isvulnerable to these other problems that canaffect people with diabetes:

  • Altered taste often affects people withdiabetes; it may result from a changein salivary chemistry, dry mouth or thepresence of yeast.
  • Dryness of the mouth may result frominactive or defective salivary glands. Drynessis also a manifestation of poorly controlleddiabetes.
  • Yeast (candida) in the mouth is a fungalinfection associated with elevated glucoselevels and is a frequent complication ofdiabetes.
  • Oral neuropathy, or numbness of themouth, is a rare complication characterizedby a burning sensation in the mouth or onthe tongue.
  • Halitosis, or bad breath, often occurswhen periodontal disease is present. Badbreath is worsened by dry mouth. Strongbreath mints may help, but they only maskthe problem, not solve it.

Ask Yourself About TheseWarning Signs of Periodontal Disease

  • Do your gums bleed easily when brushingor flossing?
  • Do you have loose teeth?
  • Are your gums red, swollen or tender?
  • Do you have unusually bad breath?
  • Do you have tartar formation (creamy brown,hard masses on tooth surfaces)?
  • Have you noticed a change in the way your teethfit together when you bite?
  • Do you feel pain when you chew?
  • Are your teeth sensitive to temperature?

Guidelines for Basic Oral Hygiene

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  2. Floss your teeth at least once a day
  3. Avoid harsh mouthwashes
  4. Have your teeth cleaned regularly

Precautions for Visiting the Dental Office

  • Be sure your dentist knows you have diabetes andwhat medications you take.
  • Make your appointment at an appropriate time toavoid hypoglycemia (for those on insulin therapy).
  • Bring your glucose meter to your appointment.
  • Try to have your blood glucose levels in goal rangeduring dental office visits.
  • Avoid long appointments; ask if a lengthy procedurecan be split into separate visits.

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