Diabetes and Periodontal Disease
Are Other Oral Problems Linked to Diabetes? continued...
Thrush. Thrush is an infection caused by a fungus that grows in the
mouth. People with diabetes are at risk for thrush because the fungus thrives
on high glucose levels in saliva. Smoking and wearing dentures (especially when
they are worn constantly) can also lead to fungal infection. Medication is
available to treat this infection. Good diabetic control, no smoking, and
removing and cleaning dentures daily can help prevent thrush.
Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is often a symptom of undetected diabetes and
can cause more than just an uncomfortable feeling in your mouth. Dry mouth can
cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
The dryness means that you don't have enough saliva, the mouth's natural
protective fluid. Saliva helps control the growth of germs that cause tooth
decay and other oral infections. Saliva washes away sticky foods that help form
plaque and strengthens teeth with minerals.
One of the major causes of dry mouth is medication. More than 400
over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including medicines for colds, high
blood pressure or depression, can cause dry mouth. If you are taking
medications, tell your doctor or dentist if your mouth feels dry. You may be
able to try a different drug or use an "artificial saliva" to keep your
Good blood glucose control can help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by
Keep Your Teeth
Serious periodontal disease not only can cause tooth loss, but can also
cause changes in the shape of bone and gum tissue. The gum becomes uneven, and
dentures may not fit well. People with diabetes often have sore gums from
If chewing with dentures is painful, you might choose foods that are easier
to chew but not right for your diet. Eating the wrong foods can upset blood
sugar control. The best way to avoid these problems is to keep your natural
teeth and gums healthy.
How Can You Protect Your Teeth and Gums?
Harmful germs attack the teeth and gums when plaque builds up. You can stop
plaque build-up and prevent gum disease by brushing and flossing carefully
- Use a piece of dental floss about 18 inches long.
- Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss through the tight spaces
between the teeth.
- Do not snap the floss against the gums.
- Curve the floss around each tooth and gently scrape from below the gum to
the top of the tooth several times.
- Rinse your mouth after flossing.
- Gently brush teeth twice a day with a soft nylon brush with rounded ends on
- Avoid hard back-and-forth scrubbing.
- Use small circle motions and short back-and-forth motions.
- Gently brush your tongue, which can trap germs.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste to protect teeth from decay.