What Diabetics Need To Know About Their Smile

smiling african american woman holding a bouquet of flowers(BlackDoctor.org) – Diabetes is a disease that can affect the whole body, including your mouth. Dental care is particularly important for people with diabetes because they face a higher than normal risk of oral health problems due to poorly controlled blood sugars. The less well controlled the blood sugar, the more likely oral health problems will arise. This is because uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.

What Dental Problems Are People With Diabetes at Higher Risk For?

People with diabetes face a higher risk of:

Dry mouth. Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease saliva flow, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.

Gum inflammation (gingivitis and periodontitis). Besides impairing white blood cells, another complication of diabetes is that it causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. When this combination of events happens, the body’s ability to fight infections is reduced. Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, diabetics with uncontrolled disease may experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.

Poor healing of oral tissues. People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.

Thrush. People with diabetes who frequently take antibiotics to fight various infections are especially prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on the high levels of sugar in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes.

Burning mouth and/or tongue. This condition is caused by the presence of thrush.

People with diabetes who smoke are at even a higher risk — up to 20 times more likely than nonsmokers — for the development of thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking also seems to impair blood flow to the gums — which may affect wound healing in this tissue area.

4 Signs You May Have a Problem

Diabetes puts you at risk for dental problems. It impairs your ability to fight bacteria in your mouth. Having high blood sugar encourages bacteria to grow and contributes to gum disease. You may have gum disease if you have:

  • Gums that are red, sore, bleeding, or swollen, or that pull away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • An irregular bite or dentures that don’t fit well

Day-to-Day Dental Health Care Tips

  • Have your teeth and gums cleaned and checked by your dentist twice a year. (Your dentist may recommend a closer interval depending upon your condition.)
  • Prevent plaque buildup on teeth by using dental floss at least once a day.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • If you wear dentures, remove them and clean them daily.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

Make Your Cocktails Guilt-Free!

six cocktails on a barWhether you’re getting together with friends to have a few drinks or celebrating the holiday season with a festive cocktail or two, it is possible to have a guilt-free night of fun.

Many drinks are heavy on calories and fat, which isn’t good when you’re trying to maintain healthy eating habits. But instead of just sipping seltzer and missing out on all of the cheer, here are a few simple tricks to keep cocktails from showing up on the scale.

Start with some bubbly

Sorry, not champagne! Instead, start off with a glass of no-calorie seltzer (or still water). The bubbles from the carbonation will give your stomach a full feeling, which helps you slow down and think about your food and drink choices as the night progresses. If you pace myself, you have better control. Plus, it’s no surprise that the calories in cocktails quickly add up, so you can also alternate seltzer between rounds.

Order it with extra rocks

Order your cocktails with extra ice, since melting cubes dilute the drink. This creates more liquid, so you can sip longer without increasing calorie intake. Sometimes it lasts so long, you may not bother with another, which saves calories in the long run.

Think before you drink

Many tend to make a beeline straight for the bar when arriving at the club, bar or party, and then guzzle down the first drink before anyone else has even placed their orders. That way, you’re consuming calories before the night has even began! Instead, start with the seltzer and think about the drink you’d like to order. By the time you’ve thoroughly considered your options, you’re happier with your cocktail choice and can take the time to savor it.

Lose the straw

Many tend to chug down cocktails when you use a straw, which means you’re more likely to refill sooner. Have a drink without a straw and you may be surprised just how much slower you sip (and enjoy) it.

Skip the juice (unless it’s fresh)

Fruit juice is often packed with sugar, so avoid cocktails that contain juice—unless it’s freshly squeezed, which is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. A great example is vodka with seltzer and a small splash of pomegranate juice. This gives the drink lots of flavor and a healthy punch without too many added calories.