Top 10 Tooth Fairy Tales for People with Diabetes

Taking care of your gums and diabetes should be a priority

Dr. Michael J. Goldberg, gums and diabetesBy Dr. Michael, Goldberg, D.M.D.

1.  It's not a problem if it doesn't hurt.

     This is really never true because lack of dental pain is not a reliable indication of health. This is particularly true with gum disease and for people with diabetes.
     People with diabetes are MORE likely to have gum disease and less likely to feel it. That's because diabetes affects the ability of the body to cope with the infection that some bacteria cause under the gums and diabetes can cause the gums themselves to become numb, actually blocking pain.
     People with diabetes understand this about their feet. They know how important foot care is in preventing sores and worse. The same is true about the mouth, except that gum disease is much more common than foot problems.

2.  It's only ONE tooth and I have plenty others.

    We usually have 28-32 permanent teeth. So what's the big deal if you loose ONE? It depends.
     Having wisdom teeth removed (in your teens or 20's) is probably a good thing because most people don't have room for them. They usually cause problems because they're just too difficult to keep clean. Having them removed when you're young is best.
     Loosing other teeth, however, is a real problem, especially for people with diabetes. That's because we're intricate machines, built to function a certain way. It's like the gears in a fine watch. You lose one and the watch stops keeping proper time. The same is true for our teeth. You lose one and it affects all the others and not in a positive way.
     Food processing or digestion is always important and even more so for people with diabetes. Chewing properly is part of digestion and having the proper number and shaped teeth helps chewing.

3.  It's not important if I don't tell my dentist about my health or medicines I take.

     Your mouth is a part of your body. Isn't it? So why would you think that your dentist isn't an important part of your health care team? And if s/he is, then why wouldn't you share all your healthcare information with him or her?
     For people with diabetes, this is even more important because of the relationship of insulin and sugars to stress and healing. Always tell your dentist and hygienist about changes in your health and update all the medications you take.

4.  A little bleeding from my gums isn't a problem.

     Bleeding is a sign of inflammation and if you have diabetes you know how important it is to control inflammation. 
     Even if your gums don't bleed, it doesn't necessarily mean that you do not have gum disease.  Sometimes the problem is under the gum and not readily apparent.
     Your dentist or hygienist should spend time looking below your gums, in areas you cannot see to find out if there are areas of bleeding and inflammation. 
     People with Diabetes should have ZTBG or Zero Tolerance for Bleeding Gums.

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Last Modified Date: March 21, 2014

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by Brenda Bell
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