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Take Care of Your Pearly Whites If You Have Diabetes

People with diabetes have two to three times the risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease compared with people who don’t have diabetes. This is serious business: According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease is associated with an increased risk of certain health problems, including heart disease, complications of diabetes, certain types of cancer, respiratory disease, and osteoporosis.

Diabetes’ experts recommend the following behaviors to help keep your mouth healthy:

  • Don’t smoke! Smoking makes all mouth problems worse and increases your risk of diabetes complications.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Brush all the surfaces of your teeth gently using circular motions with the bristles angled toward your gums. Brush your tongue, too.
  • Replace your toothbrush at least every three months. A new brush removes more plaque.
  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day. Slide the floss up and down and then curve it around the base of each tooth under the gums.
  • If you wear dentures, keep them clean and take them out at night. Have them adjusted if they become loose or uncomfortable.
  • Check your mouth in the mirror regularly, and see your dentist as soon as possible if you notice any problems, including swollen or bleeding gums; a sore or ulcer that doesn't heal; dark spots or holes in your teeth; pain in your mouth, face, or jaw that doesn't go away; loose teeth; pain when chewing; a change in your sense of taste or a bad taste in your mouth; or bad breath that doesn't go away when you brush your teeth.
  • Go for plant power. Plant foods, especially brightly colored fruits and vegetables, are loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances. Go for foods that are red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and blue.
  • See your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups.

Source: European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences

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