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Take Care of Your Teeth

Diabetes can reduce your body’s ability to fight off infection, and if you have high glucose levels in your blood, that can increase the bacteria in your mouth. This combination means your gums are at risk for infection and then gum disease. When your gums are infected, your teeth can loosen and fall out. This is what happened to Annette Gordon, who now wears a full set of dentures (see related story). “My teeth became so loose I could reach into my mouth and pull them out” she recalls.

To avoid this happening to you, keep a tight watch on your blood glucose levels, brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal, and floss regularly. Tell your dentist that you have diabetes and what medications you take. Make sure to go for a professional cleaning and check up at least twice a year.

The American Dental Association says the signs of gum disease are:

• gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
• red, swollen or tender gums
• gums that have pulled away from the teeth
• bad breath that doesn’t go away
• pus between your teeth and gums
• loose teeth
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• a change in the fit of partial dentures

If you have any of these symptoms, see your dentist immediately. You may be referred to a periodontist, a specially-trained dentist who treats gum disease.