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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Are Other Oral Problems Linked to Diabetes? continued...

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 mouth moist.

Good blood glucose control can help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.

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 dentures.

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 every day.

  • 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 the bristles.
  • 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.

Check Your Work. Dental plaque is hard to see unless it is stained. Plaque can be stained by chewing red "disclosing tablets" sold at grocery stores and drug stores or by using a cotton swab to smear green food coloring on the teeth. The color left on the teeth shows where there is still plaque. Extra flossing and brushing will remove this plaque.

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