Keeping Teeth Healthy While Living With Diabetes

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Those living with diabetes are three times more likely to get gum disease than healthy people.

“Diabetes changes the way the body reacts to bacteria. We all have bacteria in our mouths and it’s a matter of keeping it in a balance,” said Dr. Robert Gyurko, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Gyurko says diabetes essentially overtaxes and thus weakens the immune system.

In the mouth, that can lead to gingivitis.

In a worst case scenario, Dr. Gyurko says gum disease can lead to loss of teeth.

“The number one thing they have to do is to control their blood glucose,” said Dr. Gyurko, about people with diabetes.

Dr. Gyurko says high blood sugar levels, carried to the mouth, result in inflammation of the gums.

Regular professional cleanings are definitely important, but what those with diabetes do every day can have a major impact.

Plaque is a bacterial film that must be mechanically removed by brushing and flossing.

Dr. Gyurko says technique is more important than frequency.

‘If you brush too hard, if you brush, god forbid, too often, you may actually damage your gums and the root of your teeth,” he said.

Brush gently after meals, or at least twice a day, using a soft toothbrush.

Don’t forget to massage the gums with that brush, using gentle, circular motions.

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