Kate Cornell was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June of 2005. Since then, she has controlled diabetes through dietary changes, exercise, and, more recently, metformin. She shares her experiences and lessons learned here and on her blog, kates-sweet-success.blogspot.com, which was named as one of the top diabetes blogs for 2015 by Healthline.com.

Many people, myself included, tend to dislike dentists and do a poor job of taking care of their teeth and gums. This causes nothing but a horrible cycle of mouth pain, anxiety, and, surprisingly enough, higher blood sugars for those of us with diabetes. A new article at Mayoclinic.org breaks down the information surrounding dental care and diabetes.

People with diabetes, any type, are at a greater risk of dental issues. Why is that? Sugar and starch in your bloodstream causes the development of plaque on your teeth. People with diabetes have an excess of sugar and starch in their bloodstream and are more susceptible to tooth decay. If that plaque isn’t removed on a regular basis, it can turn into tartar. Tartar can irritate your gums causing gingivitis. Uncontrolled gingivitis can become periodontal disease which is when tartar builds up below the gum line causing bone loss etc. It’s a horrible chain reaction that perpetuates increased stress levels and undue discomfort.

Don’t despair, there is an easy solution to this problem! All it takes is a little commitment to improve the care of your teeth and gums.

1. Control your blood sugar. The more controlled your blood sugar is, attempting to maintain it within your target goals, the less likely you are to develop gingivitis and periodontal disease.

2. Tell your dentist that you have diabetes. This knowledge will help him/her to better care for your teeth.

3. Watch for early signs of gum disease. Swollen, red gums, loose teeth and dry mouth are early warning signs of gum disease. Don’t ignore them and tell your dentist right away.

4. Brush and floss your teeth daily. This is one way to fight gum disease that is simple and inexpensive. Brush at least twice daily and floss at least once per day. Flossing is one thing that most people ignore. Simple advice: only floss the teeth you’d like to keep. It doesn’t take long and these activities will go a long way to making sure that you and your dentist don’t know each other too well.

5. Don’t smoke. “Smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including gum disease.”

6. Schedule regular visits with your dentist. Twice per year is standard; more often if you develop periodontal disease.

Dental issues are a pain, every pun intended, but these simple steps can go a long way to helping you take care of your teeth. Good dental care can also help lower your blood sugars. What have you got to lose?

To learn more on this topic:

The Importance of Oral Health when You Have Diabetes
Video: Diabetes and Your Teeth
How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?