I was diagnosed with diabetes three weeks ago. I am wondering if there is anything I need to know about caring for my teeth. I get lots of compliments on my smile, and I don’t want diabetes to change it. I know diabetes can contribute to a lot of other health issues. How will it affect my teeth? Thanks – Pat W.

Pat – Research shows that people with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease than those without diabetes. And gum disease can affect the progression of diabetes. You must be diligent about regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, and about getting regular checkups. Let your dentist know that you have been diagnosed with diabetes so your gums can be regularly checked.

Controlling your glucose level is critical in the prevention of gum disease. Poorly controlled glucose levels can also lead to thrush—an infection in your mouth that is caused by a fungus.

Some diabetics notice that their mouth is drier than it used to be. Drink plenty of water and chew gum after meals to increase saliva flow. A dry mouth can promote plaque-producing bacteria that can lead to tooth decay or gum disease.

You can also ask your dentist for fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse. Both will help fight bacteria and cavities.

This post is sponsored by Indianapolis dentist Dr. Julia Shalit of Pure Zen Dentistry.