Mouth Health and Diabetes

Diabetics have been dealt a bad hand. Of course, for many, this was a self-inflicted bad hand, myself included. One area that I neglected for some time after going paleo was my oral hygiene.

Like many other parts of the body, diabetics can develop mouth problems if blood glucose is not controlled. Complications include mouth thrush, gingivitis, dry mouth and burning mouth. Periodontal disease is really bad where chronic bacterial infection destroys the gums and even the bones in one’s mouth.

Now my blood glucose has always been pretty good, but between 2012 and 2014 I didn’t go to the dentist for my annual check-up. My old dentist was charging me a fortune for cleanings and was usually passing me on to one of his lackeys. I rarely saw him. Then we moved house, settled into a new job and new area so it took me a while to find a new dentist. It wasn’t a priority, and at that point I didn’t know diabetics could have complications when it came to oral health.

Well, when I did find my new dentist, he was not impressed. He said my teeth were fine, but my gums were a disgrace. He carried out a gum check, which I had never had before from any previous dentists. What did he find? Several of my numbers were four or above. This was not good and was a sign of gum disease. What was going on was simple: I had neglected my gum health and my gums were becoming diseased. Specifically, I had swelling, bleeding and receding gums which had formed gum pockets. If I didn’t do anything, these gum pockets would deepen with time, allowing plaque and bacteria to collect. Eventually, I’d get periodontal disease.

So what did I do? I followed my dentist’s advice backed up by the hygienist: get an electric tooth brush, brush twice a day, floss every day and start using interdental brushes. I also brush with bicarbonate of soda once a week and use mouth wash most days.

Interdental brushes? I had never heard of them. Well, they are like it says on the tin. They are little brushes one uses between one’s teeth. They help keep gums free of food and teeth free of plaque. My hygienist experimented with different sizes to maximise the effectiveness of the brushing.

Dental floss: Little evidence flossing stops cavities and ...
I use yellow

So where am I several years later? Because I started taking care of my gums religiously, I had a rapid improvement in gum health. For the last three years, my numbers are between 1 and 3 which means healthy gums.

I think it’s easy when you have a disease that can go after major organs to not consider the assumed small things like oral hygiene. I discovered that this can go from nuisance to serious problem if I don’t take care of myself. Assumption is the mother of all foul ups!

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