Proper dental care

To help prevent damage to your teeth and gums, take diabetes and dental care seriously:

  • Make a commitment to managing your diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar level, and follow your doctor's instructions for keeping your blood sugar level within your target range. The better you control your blood sugar level, the less likely you are to develop gingivitis and other dental problems.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brush in the morning, at night and, ideally, after meals and snacks. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums. Consider using an electric toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush well.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing helps remove plaque between your teeth and under your gumline. If you have trouble getting floss through your teeth, use the waxed variety. If it's hard to manipulate the floss, use a floss holder.
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings. Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings.
  • Make sure your dentist knows you have diabetes. Every time you visit your dentist, remind him or her that you have diabetes. Make sure your dentist has contact information for your doctor who helps you manage your diabetes.
  • Look for early signs of gum disease. Report any signs of gum disease — including redness, swelling and bleeding gums — to your dentist. Also mention any other signs and symptoms, such as dry mouth, loose teeth or mouth pain.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including gum disease. If you smoke, ask your doctor about options to help you quit.

Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment, and that includes proper dental care. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Nov. 07, 2012 See more In-depth