A Root Canal

Diabetes And Dental Care: What Can You Do To Keep Gum Disease At Bay?

If you're a diabetic with minor problems with your gums, you may wonder how you can keep the problems from becoming worse. If your gums bleed or feel sore when you brush your teeth, it's important that you treat the issues now. Your minor gum problems can quickly turn into periodontal disease, which may eventually lead to tooth loss. In addition, your gum problems may interfere with how you manage or control your diabetes. Here are more facts about your oral health and diabetes and what you can do to protect both.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Teeth and Gums?

You probably already know that diabetes develops when you have too much sugar in your blood. But what you may not know is that excess blood sugar can potentially weaken or damage your body's blood vessels and nerves, including the tissues inside your mouth. You may develop periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, without the proper dental treatment. Gum disease can become worse if you don't manage or control your high blood sugar properly. 

Regular brushing and flossing should remove most of the plaque from your mouth. But if you're like a number of other diabetic individuals, your gums can become sore, swollen, and painful from your condition, which makes it difficult to brush and floss properly. You might skip oral care to avoid the discomfort. 

Eventually, the plaque on your teeth and around your gumline hardens into a substance called tartar. Tartar buildup can push beneath your gumline and cause an infection. Generally, you can reverse the beginning stages of gum disease with regular dental cleanings and good oral care at home. But if you don't treat gum disease on time, it can spread to the tissues that hold teeth in place and cause tooth loss.

Losing teeth may change how you chew, bite, and perceive the food you eat over time, which may have dangerous effects on your oral and physical health. Diabetic individuals should eat a certain amount of nutrients, healthy carbohydrates, and fiber each day to lower or keep their blood sugar in check. Most meat and vegetable products provide those nutrients. But if you can't chew your food, you may opt for something softer, such as bland mashed potatoes or boiled broccoli. Some foods lose many of their vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients when you boil them in too much water. 

To protect your gums from disease and possibly prevent issues with your diabetes, see a family dentist for help.

How Can You Keep Your Gums Healthy?

A dentist can examine your gums to see if you have the beginning stages of gum disease. If you do, you may expect to have your gums gently cleaned and teeth polished to remove the plaque and tartar on them. If your gums continue to bleed after a provider cleans them, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Antibiotics destroy pathogens in your blood and tissues, which allows your gums to heal properly. 

You can also do some things to keep your gums healthy after dental treatment, including using a water flosser to help remove plaque from your teeth during oral care. A flosser uses water and special oral irrigators instead of floss thread to cleanse your mouth. When combined with brushing your teeth regularly, a water flosser can be an effective tool against plaque and bacteria. If you need more information about what type of water flosser to use, consult with a family dentist.

Finally, consult with a dietitian about your inability to eat a better diet. A dietitian may offer tips on how to prepare your meat and vegetables so that they retain their nutrients. If you still need to soften up some of your foods, a dietitian may show you how to do so without depleting their nutritional values. For example, you can soften up your vegetables with steam instead of a full pot of water.

For more tips and information about diabetes and your gums, talk to a dental provider near you today.