A recent study by Harris Interactive says 95 percent of people living with diabetes have gum disease compared to 50 percent of the general population. More than one third of people with diabetes are not aware of the link between diabetes and oral health, 54 percent say they have symptoms of gum disease, and 67 percent do not discuss their oral health with their doctor. Oral health, as well as combating obesity and regular exercise, is important in the prevention of the disease.
These are 10 tips she recommends for people who are already living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, or want to prevent it in their family:
1. Exercise, even in small steps – transform your life and your health just by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or park a little farther from work so you can have a longer walk.
2. Eat smaller portions, and choose less fatty and healthier foods.
3. Living with diabetes is a family matter – if everyone eats healthy and exercises together, it will be healthy for everybody.
4. Maintain a positive outlook in both life and in diabetes – join an exercise class, which is conducive to meeting people and boosting self-esteem.
5. Talk to your doctor – your doctor plays an integral role in helping develop and maintain a treatment plan. Talk about any questions you have. There are never any dumb questions.
6. Talk to your dentist – your dentist is also very important. The reason is people with diabetes are more susceptible to serious gum disease. Get regular checkups every six months. Give your doctor’s information to your dentist so they can collaborate on the treatment plan.
7. Explore all diabetic healthcare options – if you don’t have a dentist or dental insurance, you might want to look for a dental school in your area. Most have clinics where the cost is often lower than visiting a private practice dentist. Your mouth is important.
8. Take preventative steps against gum disease – research suggests a relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes, since serious gum disease can affect blood glucose control. Diabetics have a higher risk of developing bacterial infections, and our mouths and gums are not an exception. If you have an infection, it’s a little tougher to control your blood sugar. It becomes a vicious cycle. It’s more difficult to have your gums get back to normal. A lot of people have problems with their gums, but they don’t talk about it with their doctor. It’s important you know about this relationship. If your diabetes is not controlled, it can affect your gums. It works both ways.
9. Floss daily – at least once a day. It will also help keep your gums healthy and help prevent gum disease.
10. Brush for two minutes twice a day with a toothpaste that prevents gum disease.
For more information, she recommends visiting OralHealthAndDiabetes.com.