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Diabetes and Mouth Problems continued...

If you have any symptoms of thrush, see your doctor or dentist. You may need to take an antifungal drug to treat it. Avoid smoking; maintain good blood sugar control; and if you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily.

Diabetes also makes dry mouth and problems with healing more likely. A dry mouth can cause soreness and ulcers and lead to cavities and salivary gland infections. If your mouth is dry, try drinking more water or chewing sugar-free gum. You can also use a saliva substitute, which is sold in most drugstores.

If you have problems with healing, it may take longer for your mouth to heal after any type of dental surgery. Healing problems can also raise your chances of infection. Be sure to let your dentist know you have diabetes.

Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums

You can avoid many mouth problems if you take good care of your mouth. Try these tips:

  • Keep your blood sugar levels under control. Studies show that high blood glucose levels are more likely to cause mouth problems.
  • Floss at least once a day. Flossing helps keep plaque from building up on your teeth. Use about 18 inches of floss. Slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth, then curve it around the bottom of each tooth. Ask your dentist to show you how.
  • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush at least twice a day or after each meal and snack. Aim to brush for about 2 minutes.
  • When brushing your teeth, tilt your toothbrush at an angle to your gums. Gently brush back and forth in short strokes.
  • Brush your tongue when you brush your teeth, to get rid of bacteria.
  • Replace your toothbrush when the bristles are worn -- usually about every 3 to 4 months.
  • Ask your dentist if you should use an antimicrobial toothpaste or mouth rinse.
  • Visit your dentist for a cleaning and checkup at least every 6 months. Your dentist may advise more frequent visits.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking raises your chances of gum disease and infection.
  • Check your mouth and gums often for any signs of a problem. If you notice any changes in your mouth, see your dentist promptly.