How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION estimates that 23.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes (whether it be type 1, type 2, or gestational). At least another 7 million remain undiagnosed, and that doesn’t include the additional millions who are considered pre-diabetic. But what does diabetes have to do with oral health? Unfortunately, quite a lot.

Diabetes And Gum Disease

Diabetes is a chronic disease that either means the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin (type 1) or that the body doesn’t use it effectively (type 2 and gestational), both of which cause elevated blood glucose. The most serious impact elevated blood glucose has on oral health is that it simultaneously weakens the immune system and provides more food for the bacteria that attack teeth and gums.

This two-pronged attack is why 22% of diabetics also have gum disease, whether in the early stages of inflammation (gingivitis) or in the advanced stages (periodontitis) that threaten the teeth, gums, and supporting bone. The bacteria that causes gum disease can also travel through the bloodstream and make it even harder to regulate blood sugar.


In addition to increasing the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis, uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to a variety of other oral health problems, such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Impaired or slower healing
  • Increased severity and frequency of infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Salivary gland enlargement

What You Can Do

Now for the good news: even with diabetes, good oral health is within reach. Even better: keeping your teeth and gums healthy will also make the diabetes easier to manage! Make sure to brush twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, floss daily or use a water flosser or interdental brush, use a non-alcoholic mouthwash, and don’t smoke. Carefully regulating your sugar intake is a major factor as well.

The Dentist’s Role

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, the standard two dental exams per year may not be enough. To stay on the safe side, we recommend that you increase the number of yearly visits to three or four. It is also crucial for us to know how you and your doctor are working together to get it under control. Likewise, your doctor needs to know how we are working with you to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

We can help you win the fight for your dental health!

Managing That Halloween Sweet Tooth

HALLOWEEN IS OUR favorite spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?

Ranking Candy On Dental Health

Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others, or present different kinds of problems.

  • Hard candy is a problem because there’s a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it isn’t safe either because that means holding a source of sugar in our mouths for an extended period.
  • Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health, because not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic, so they can harm our enamel directly!
  • Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad for teeth because it remains stuck there, feeding the bacteria for a long time and giving them a larger opportunity to attack the enamel.
  • The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate! It doesn’t stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.

Reducing The Candy Quantity

Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do that is by simply eating less candy. As parents, we can help our children out with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. We could let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. We just have to make sure to discuss the plan with them in advance.

More Tooth-Healthy Strategies

There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. You can drink more waterto rinse out the sugar, limit the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and wait thirty minutes after eating candy to brush your teeth. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.

Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round

The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you’re always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits!

Have a spooky Halloween!

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

BACK IN THE GOOD old days before the 1930s, toothbrush bristles were made of animal hair.

We’re pretty happy to live in the era of nylon bristles, but how can we tell which toothbrush will be best for our teeth and gums? How hard should the bristles be? Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?

Soft Versus Hard Bristles

It’s true that hard bristles make it a little bit easier to scrub away the plaque from your teeth than soft bristles. It isn’t worth it in the end, though, because those hard bristles can also scrape away enamel and even agitate your gums to the point of putting you at greater risk for gum recession, which could be permanent.

In the case of hard bristles versus soft, the costs of hard bristles clearly outweigh the benefits, which is why dentists always give out and recommend soft-bristle brushes.

Powered Versus Manual Brushes

In the past, there wasn’t a significant difference between the effectiveness of electric toothbrushes and manual ones. However, the technology has come a long way, and modern electric toothbrushes are better at getting plaque out of hard-to-reach spots.

Electric toothbrushes reduce plaque by up to 21 percent more than manual toothbrushes and reduce the risk of gingivitis by 11 percent more. Using an electric toothbrush also makes it easier to brush for the full two minutes and less likely that you will apply too much pressure.

That still leaves a lot of different electric toothbrushes to choose from. Luckily, whether you choose an oscillating brush (spinning tops) or a sonic brush (bristles vibrate from side to side), you’ll still see better results than with a manual brush. If you aren’t sure which brush would be best for you, feel free to ask us about it at your next appointment!

Taking Care Of Your Toothbrush

Once you’ve found the ideal toothbrush, it’s important to store it properly so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. Store it upright somewhere it can dry out, preferably as far from a toilet as possible. Finally, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush (or the head of your electric toothbrush) regularly because even the best bristles fray and lose their effectiveness over time.

Watch the video below for a few more tips about brushing your teeth!

We Look Forward To Seeing You!

Having the right toothbrush and taking proper care of it are essential to good dental health, but there’s no replacement for regular professional dental cleanings. Make sure you’re scheduling appointments twice a year! We look forward to seeing you soon.

Good habits and the right tools make all the difference for your teeth!

DIY Teeth Whitening Trends: Fact Or Fiction?

TRENDS IMPACT JUST about every aspect of life, from slang and fashion to which toys are collectibles this year and which fad diet everyone’s aunt is doing.

Most trends are harmless symptoms of an ever-evolving society and culture, but when they affect the ways we take care of ourselves, they can become serious. In recent years, do-it-yourself teeth whitening has been a “trendy” topic, so let’s take a look at a few of the more popular methods.

Charcoal Versus Tooth Enamel

As counterintuitive as it seems to rub black powder on your teeth and expect them to become whiter, the rationale behind the idea makes sense. Charcoal is extremely porous and absorbent, and has been used even in hospitals to safely neutralize toxins. In theory, it could do the same for your teeth.

However, charcoal isn’t just porous, it’s also abrasive. Even as it absorbs harmful compounds from your mouth and disrupts bacterial populations, it could also be scraping away your enamel, doing more harm than good. Until we know more about the effects of charcoal on teeth, it’s safer to give that home remedy a pass.

Lemon Juice: Dissolving Stains Or Dissolving Teeth?

The enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance in your body, but it is extremely susceptible to erosion by acid. Your saliva keeps the pH in your mouth balanced to protect your enamel, but any time you eat or drink something acidic, that pH is disrupted and your teeth are vulnerable. Using lemon juice on your teeth in hopes of whitening them is, therefore, likely to cause a lot of enamel erosion, and once that enamel is gone, it’s gone for good.

Oil Pulling: An Ancient Folk Remedy

Oil pulling involves swishing oil (typically coconut, sunflower, sesame, or olive oil) around in one’s mouth for up to twenty minutes. Proponents of oil pulling claim it has numerous health benefits, including teeth whitening, but the American Dental association doesn’t recommend it because there is no scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Strawberries And Bananas

Strawberries do contain some citric acid, but they also contain malic acid (particularly when ripe), which actually can give your teeth a whiter appearance. Bananas contain potassium, magnesium, and manganese, all of which promote healthier teeth and can help remove surface stains. So these two do-it-yourself teeth whiteners may actually provide some benefit! Both fruits still contain sugar, however, so you should still brush your teeth with dentist approved toothpaste after eating them.

Curious about those whitening mouthpieces that emit blue light you see all over social media? Watch the video below to learn whether or not they’re really effective:

Stick To The Science

Trends like charcoal toothpaste and lemon juice mouthwash will come and (hopefully) go, and occasionally we’ll discover remedies that do have benefits, like strawberries and bananas, but the best benefits to our teeth will always come from dentist-approved methods. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day, avoid sugary drinks and snacks, and schedule regular dental appointments.

If all of these good habits aren’t keeping your teeth white enough, talk to us about safe, professional whitening options.

Healthy smiles are beautiful smiles!

That’s all for now!

#mycheshiredentist

Kids’ Dental Health 101

WE ALL REMEMBER what it was like to lose our first tooth and become “one of the big kids.” Children grow up fast, but the time of greatest change for their teeth is the transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth. If your own children are in or approaching that phase of childhood, there are a few things that are important to understand.

Baby Teeth Serve A Special Purpose

Even though baby teeth only last a few years, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to take care of them, because they serve several valuable functions. First and foremost, they are placeholders for the adult teeth, helping the adult teeth to come in straight. They are also an important part of articulate speech (hence the famous lisp when the two front teeth are missing), and, of course, chewing would be impossible for the first several years of childhood without baby teeth.

Pull Loose Teeth At The Right Time

Things can get very exciting when that first tooth starts wiggling. Kids look forward to the visit from the Tooth Fairy and being able to squirt water through the new gap, but it’s important not to rush things. Let the tooth loosen on its own. If that doesn’t happen, it could be for a number of reasons, including:

  • the baby tooth being stubborn,
  • the adult tooth being impacted,
  • and the adult tooth not coming in directly under the baby tooth.

Whatever the cause, we can address it at our practice.


New Adult Teeth Differ From Baby Teeth

Don’t panic if your child’s brand new adult tooth looks more yellowthan the surrounding baby teeth. That’s simple biology. Baby teeth have more of the white enamel layer and less of the underlying yellow layer than adult teeth, which is why they appear more white. A slight difference in color is completely normal, but if you’re worried, we can certainly check them out.

Another difference between baby teeth and adult teeth is that adult incisors have small bumps called mamelons along the tops. Help your child understand that these bumps are perfectly normal and often wear down after a few years.

Keep Taking Care Of Those Teeth!

There are a few essential components of dental care for growing kids, whether they’ve started losing baby teeth or not. First, teach them good brushing and flossing habits. This means brushing twice daily for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and flossing once daily, working gently along the gumline on each side of the gaps between teeth. Second, cut back on sugary snacks, sodas, and fruit juice that dramatically increase the risk of tooth decay. Finally, make sure to bring them in for regular cleaning appointments, as well as dental sealants as soon as the adult molars come in.

If you have any questions about your child’s developing teeth or their oral health, feel free to let us know in the comments below or call and make an appointment today!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

#mycheshiredentist