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    Diabetes & Oral Health: How to Protect Your Teeth

    Your diabetes can affect your teeth. Having uncontrolled diabetes can mean you're more likely to get gum disease or the other problems below. The good news: Good habits will help keep your mouth healthy.

    Diabetes can make you more likely to have cavities and fungal infections. Other potential problems include:

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    • Difficulty fighting off infections, including those that might lead to gum disease
    • Slower healing time after dental surgery

    Dry mouth, called xerostomia, is common among people with diabetes. Saliva is important to oral health -- it helps wash away food particles and keep the mouth moist. When you don't produce enough moisture, bacteria thrive, tissues can get irritated and inflamed, and your teeth can be more prone to decay.

    Even so, you can protect your teeth and oral health. Here's how.

    Steps to Take

    • Make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss once a day.
    • Use an antibacterial mouth rinse twice a day to help curb bacteria that can cause plaque buildup on teeth and gums.
    • Check your mouth for inflammation or signs of bleeding gums. If you notice either, let your dentist know as soon as possible.
    • Have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months, or even every 3 or 4 months. Your dentist may suggest stepping up the cleaning schedule if you tend to build up plaque or tartar quickly.
    • Make sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes. Give her the names of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take.
    • Make sure your diabetes is well controlled.

    Your dentist may refer you to a periodontist -- a dentist who specializes in gum disease -- if your gum problems persist or seem to get worse.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 22, 2016

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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