I regularly read your column. I have diabetes and would like to know how this could affect my teeth. Can you give me some tips to prevent problems later? Thanks! – Celine Bustamante of Pasay City
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Diabetics face many challenges when it comes to dental health. They have to be extra careful since the disease makes them prone to a lot of problems.
High blood sugar not only wreaks havoc on the body but it can greatly affect the teeth and gums. People with diabetes are at greater risk for tooth decay, early gum disease and advanced gum disease (periodontitis) that can loosen teeth and make them fall out.
Other problems associated with diabetes are dry mouth that could lead to ulcers and infections, poor healing of tissues following oral surgery or other dental procedures, thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth common in diabetics who often take antibiotics), and burning mouth syndrome that affects the gums, lips, tongue, and cheeks.
To avoid these problems and take good care of your teeth and gums, here are some easy tips:
Monitor your blood sugar regularly and don’t forget to take your medicines.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially in the morning and at night. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. For people with arthritis, an electric toothbrush is a good investment.
Floss at least once a day to remove plaque between teeth and under the gums. Have your teeth cleaned by a professional dentist at least twice a year.
Remind your dentist that you have diabetes so he can help you manage the disease.
Be on the lookout for warning signs of gum disease like redness, swelling and bleeding gums.
Stop smoking since this can lead to diabetes complications.
Dr. Joseph D. Lim is the dean of the National University College of Dentistry, president & CEO of Dr. Smile Dental Care & Laser Center and honorary fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy and the Japan College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or text 0917-8591515.