Be Good to Your Gums

People with diabetes need to take care of their mouths. These tips will help you out.

Health Monitor Staff
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Sure, you know brushing and flossing keep your smile sparkling. But if you have diabetes, there’s added incentive to practice good oral hygiene: Having the disease doubles your risk of gum disease by making you more susceptible to bacterial infections in the mouth. Fortunately, these little-known techniques can help prevent periodontal problems.

Put a lid on stress
A connection between tension, anxiety and gums? You betcha! A study of more than 1,400 people by the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan found a positive association between stress and dental health. And those dealing with financial worries were at greatest risk for periodontal disease! Researchers say stress disrupts the immune system, making you vulnerable to infection.

Go ultra-soft

There’s no need to scrub your teeth with all your might. In fact, you should use the softest bristled brush you can find (look for ones labeled “extra-soft” or “ultra-soft”). That way, you protect tooth enamel and avoid causing the gums to separate from the teeth (called pocketing), which allows bacteria to enter. And be sure to replace your brush every three or four months.

Guard against dry mouth
Saliva helps prevent the buildup of plaque, keeps bacteria in check and protects enamel. Unfortunately, high blood sugar and some oral diabetes drugs can cause dry mouth. To stimulate the flow of saliva, try fluoride toothpaste specially formulated for dry mouth, chewing sugarless gum, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding salty, sugary and acidic foods.


April 2013