It is estimated that about one in 10 Americans has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and many others are pre-diabetic. Diabetes affects many areas of the body, including your teeth and gums. As a dentist in Jupiter, I often see the effects of diabetes on oral health, and can provide a few tips that will help my patients with diabetes enjoy the best possible oral health.
1. Increase Your Saliva
While most people probably don’t ponder saliva, as a Jupiter dentist, I am well aware of the importance of this fluid, which protects the teeth and the gums from certain types of harmful bacteria. Diabetics often produce less saliva, and this places them at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Sometimes this reduced saliva production is due to the disease, but it also can occur because of certain medications you may have to take to control your insulin levels.
One easy way to help maintain saliva production is to drink plenty of water. Diabetics can become dehydrated easily, so drinking a proper amount of water each day will benefit your entire body. Chewing sugar-free gum also can stimulate the production of saliva and there are also are some over-the-counter products that help to stimulate salvia. If you are diabetic and suffer from dry mouth, talk to your physician and your Jupiter dentist and discuss some ways you can reduce or eliminate this problem.
2. Avoid Certain Foods
While every person’s body is unique and you, your dietician and your physician will create an individual diet plan to help keep your diabetes under control, there are certain foods that tend to cause more oral health problems than others, and these items probably should be avoided.
Any sugary drinks or treats such as ice cream, cookies, candy bars and other “junk foods” tend to stick to our teeth and eat away at the enamel, which puts one at greater risk for tooth decay. These bits of food also combine with harmful bacteria to create plaque and tartar which leads to gum disease. While these issues can occur with anyone who eats junk food, the problems tend to be accelerated with those who have diabetes. As a dentist in Jupiter, I have seen just how fast dental problems can develop with my patients who have diabetes. Avoiding sticky, sugary drinks and foods, as well as high-starch foods can help prevent many oral health issues and also will make it easier for you to keep your insulin levels controlled and to keep your teeth clean.
3. Practice Optimum Oral Hygiene
If you have diabetes, it is imperative that you brush and floss twice per day. Proper brushing and flossing removes much of the harmful bacteria that can damage teeth and gums. Be sure that you are brushing and flossing correctly, and feel free to ask your Jupiter dentist to show you proper brushing and flossing techniques.
It is recommended that you brush prior to eating breakfast and then brush again just before going to bed. While brushing after you eat might seem like a good idea, this actually can damage your tooth enamel. It’s best to brush before you eat and then simply give your mouth a good rinse after eating a meal. Chewing sugar-free gum and drinking water between meals also can help remove bacteria from your teeth and gums.
4. Visit Your Jupiter Dentist
While it is recommended that most adults head to the dentist twice per year for a check-up and a professional cleaning, this is even more important for people with diabetes. In some cases, you might want to schedule a dental exam or cleaning every 3-4 months. Keeping your gums free from tartar and plaque doesn’t just improve your dental health, it also keeps the rest of your body healthy and professional cleanings can remove all or most of the plaque and tartar.
People living with diabetes tend to have suppressed immune systems and anything that you can do to stay healthy will help make it easier for you to control your diabetes. Diabetics are at a higher risk for heart disease, and there is a strong link between poor oral health and heart problems. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy can go a long way to keeping every part of your body feeling great.
While living with diabetes certainly can be difficult, a proper diet and exercise regime combined with great oral health can go a long way to keeping this disease under control. As a Jupiter dentist, I encourage anyone with diabetes to schedule a comprehensive dental exam as soon as possible to ensure that your oral health is at its best and to discuss some ways to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.