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The Positive Connection Between Brushing Teeth and Diabetes

The connection between our mouths and our digestive system is a no-brainer, but what about our endocrine system which controls hormone levels, glucose, and growth as we age?

In a new study published in Diabetes Spectrum this June, there has been a remarkable connection made between oral health and glycemic control in individuals with Type 2 diabetes.

Connection Between Oral Health And Glycemic Control In Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes

More specifically, this study by Dr. Ruth Lipman, the senior director of evidence synthesis and translation research for the ADA Science & Research Institute, was a systematic scoping review. It dove into the relationship between regular toothbrushing and its impact on both oral health and blood sugar levels.

A Deeper Dive Into Tooth Brushing Research

Throughout the examination of 11 diverse studies, including surveys and interventions aimed at enhancing home oral care, a compelling pattern emerged. Participants who reported more frequent toothbrushing consistently experienced improved glycemic control.

Beyond that, these diligent individuals also demonstrated positive oral health outcomes during clinician-conducted evaluations. The study revealed several improvements in oral health outcomes during clinician-conducted evaluations:

  • Reduced bleeding around teeth and gums
  • Decreased gingival crevicular fluid
  • Shallower periodontal pockets
  • Less calculus buildup
  • Reduction or removal of plaque
  • Diminished tooth decay and tooth loss
  • Decreased risk of periodontal disease

However, Lipman’s study did not stop at highlighting the importance of toothbrushing alone. Dr. Lipman emphasized two key takeaways that deserve attention. First and foremost, this research underlines that regular toothbrushing, a fundamental pillar of home oral hygiene, not only benefits oral health but also plays a crucial role in controlling blood sugar levels among those with Type 2 diabetes.

Secondly, the study stresses the significance of personalized coaching and motivation in improving toothbrushing behavior. Simply educating patients about toothbrushing may not be sufficient; rather, dental professionals need to engage in comprehensive lifestyle behavior change support to empower individuals with Type 2 diabetes to enhance their oral hygiene practices effectively.

Diabetes And Tooth Loss

Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease (periodontal disease) because of impaired immunity and elevated blood sugar levels, which can damage the supporting tissues and bone around the teeth.

Additionally, diabetes can cause dry mouth, reduced wound healing, and nerve damage in the mouth, all of which contribute to an increased susceptibility to infections and delayed treatment of oral health issues.

To prevent gum disease and tooth loss, proper oral hygiene from tooth brushing and flossing, as well as blood sugar control, and regular dental check-ups, are essential for individuals with diabetes. Early detection of diabetes and oral health problems can lead to proper management of glucose levels, reduce high blood sugar, and help a person maintain a healthy smile.

What Can You Do To Improve Your Tooth Brushing Routine & Glycemic Control?

​​Improving the toothbrushing routine and maintaining consistent oral hygiene can significantly contribute to better glycemic control for individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Here are some practical steps and motivational strategies that can help diabetic patients achieve this goal:

  1. Set Specific Goals: Establish clear and achievable goals for your oral health, such as brushing at least twice daily and flossing regularly. Having a specific target can keep you focused and motivated.
  2. Create A Good Oral Health Routine: Incorporate toothbrushing into your daily routine at fixed times, like after meals or before bedtime. Consistency will make it a habit, reducing the chances of skipping it.
  3. Use Visual Reminders: Place visual reminders in your bathroom or near your toothbrush to prompt you to brush regularly. This could be a sticky note or a calendar with daily checkmarks for brushing.
  4. Choose the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Select a toothbrush and toothpaste that suits your needs and preferences. Using the right tools can make the experience more enjoyable.
  5. Try Different Techniques: Experiment with various brushing techniques, such as circular or back-and-forth motions, and find what works best for you in terms of thoroughness and comfort.
  6. Set Up a Reward System: Establish a reward system for yourself, like treating yourself to something you enjoy after consistently following your tooth brushing routine for a certain period.
  7. Find a Brushing Buddy: Partner with a family member or friend who also aims to improve their oral hygiene. Encouraging each other can create a sense of accountability and make the process more enjoyable.
  8. Educate Yourself: People with diabetes should learn about the potential benefits of regular toothbrushing on glycemic control and overall health. Understanding the importance of this practice can be a strong motivator to improve your routine.
  9. Track Your Progress: Keep a journal or use an oral health app to track your brushing habits and improvements over time. Seeing your progress can be gratifying and help you stay on track.
  10. Seek Professional Guidance: Consult your dentist or dental hygienist for personalized advice and tips on improving your toothbrushing technique. They can also offer additional motivation and support.
  11. Visualize the Benefits: Envision the positive impact of improved oral health on your overall well-being and diabetes management. This mental image can reinforce your commitment to better tooth brushing habits.
  12. Be Kind to Yourself: If you miss a brushing session or face setbacks, don’t be too hard on yourself. Treat it as a learning opportunity and get back on track without self-judgment.

By following these strategies and staying dedicated to your oral health, you can motivate yourself to improve your tooth brushing routine. As a result, you will experience the benefits of better blood sugar control. Remember that small steps towards positive changes can lead to significant long-term improvements in your overall health.

Discover excellent dental care with North Suburban Dental in the Chicagoland area. If you’re looking to set up your next dental checkup with us, then contact our office now.

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