Diabetes puts you at a greater risk for oral health problems like gingivitis and tooth decay. Not only does diabetes weaken your body's response to infections, but high blood glucose levels in the saliva forge an environment in which bacteria thrive.
In light of this information, people with diabetes should take great care to maintain impeccable dental hygiene. Use oral care products displaying the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance. Brush at least twice a day - after each meal if possible - and floss once a day. You can also use an antimicrobial mouthrinse or toothpaste. Also make sure to visit your dentist regularly.
Here are some tips on how to effectively clean your teeth:
Brushing. A toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time. Allow about 3 minutes of brushing to clean all your teeth well.
- Use a brush with soft bristles and rounded ends. Soft bristles are less likely to hurt your gums.
- Angle the brush against the gum line, where teeth and gums meet.
- Move the brush back and forth with short strokes. Use a gentle, scrubbing motion.
- Brush the outside surfaces of the teeth. Do the same for the backs of the teeth and chewing surfaces.
- Brush the rough surface of your tongue to remove germs and freshen your breath.
- Remember to brush your gums too.
- Get a new toothbrush when the bristles are worn or bent, about every 3-4 months.
Flossing. Few people really enjoy flossing. But if you don't floss, you're only doing half the job of cleaning your teeth and gums. Flossing cleans away plaque and bits of food from between your teeth and below the gum line. It gets places your brush can't reach. Floss once a day.
- Break off 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the rest around the same finger of the other hand.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Leave about an inch between them.
- Use a gentle sawing motion to get the floss between your teeth. Never snap the floss into the gums.
- When you get the floss to the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Scrape up and down on the sides of each tooth to remove plaque.
- As floss gets worn and dirty, move to a clean section and continue. Don't forget the backsides of your rear teeth.
- When you're done brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth with water.
You should contact your doctor if you notice:
- gums that are bleeding more easily
- gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- pus between the teeth and gums when the gums are pressed
- persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
My sources are below. They're great resources for further reading: