Flossing your teeth every day is important to help promote overall health, even for the healthiest people. But people with diabetes should be especially vigilant about flossing as well as brushing their teeth. The high blood sugar that accompanies diabetes can take a toll on teeth and gums in several ways.
Remember that the bacteria in your mouth may cause the buildup of plaque on your teeth, which can lead to tartar. Tartar, in turn, can irritate the gums. The bacteria in plaque can also lead to gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis can become periodontitis, a serious infection of the gums and the bones that surround your teeth. Periodontitis can cause your gums to recede and, in more advanced cases, your teeth to loosen and fall out.
According to the Mayo clinic, studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to develop gingivitis than people who don’t have diabetes. People with diabetes can be more susceptible to infections and they may take longer to heal. And poor oral hygiene can make your diabetes more difficult to control, too. If you develop an infection due to gum disease, it can affect your insulin needs.
But you can maintain good oral health despite your diabetes by brushing and flossing regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes and schedule regular check-ups for thorough dental cleanings. During these visits, your dentist or dental hygienist can identify early signs of gum irritation and help you prevent infection.