Got Diabetes? Stop Gum Disease Before It Starts

High blood sugar can upset your dental health. Here’s how to prevent gum disease with diabetes.

Maria Lissandrello

High blood sugar can take a toll on your dental health. It disrupts the mouth’s ability to fight bacteria, which gives plaque a chance to attack your gums. Your best bet? First, get your blood sugar under control. Then brush at least twice a day, floss at least once, get regular checkups and take these easy steps:

Boost your vitamin C
Getting enough vitamin C can help keep gingivitis, a condition marked by sore bleeding gums, at bay. A study in the European Journal of Oral Sciences found the vitamin not only prevented bleeding gums, but also protected teeth from tartar.

Drink ample fluids
Drinking about eight 8-oz. glasses of fluids a day helps dislodge food and germs. Plus, it promotes the production of saliva, which neutralizes acids that attract plaque-forming bacteria.

Brush, and brush again
Hold off on the toothpaste—until after you’ve brushed your teeth with a dry brush first! Using a soft-bristled brush, gently brush at a 45-degree angle, so you can reach particles beneath the gum line. Follow with toothpaste as usual. The practice can help reduce plaque deposits and bleeding gums.

Stub out the smokes
Smoking creates deep pockets between the teeth and gums, triggers loss of the bone that supports your teeth and leads to calculus, a hard plaque that can be removed only through a professional cleaning. 

Wash away plaque
Ask your dentist about mouthwashes that can break down plaque and rinse away particles your toothbrush can’t reach.

April 2013