I recently went to the dentist. Good news--he told me my teeth look clean and cavaity free.
Bad news--he said I HAVE to floss more. Aparently because I do not floss as often as I should (okay hardly ever), my gums are irritated because of food particles that get stuck in between my teeth. He said that if my gums don't begin to show signs of improvement he may need to see me every 3 or 4 months rather than every 6 months and that I may need to have a deep cleaning done. That does not sound like fun.
The dentist said because of my diabetes it is even more important that I floss regularly. I said okay, and that I would, but I wanted to know why it was so important. (I'm sure he explained this at the time, but he probably explained at the same time I zoned out).
So I googled.
The basics are that bacteria in your mouth may cause buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque leads to tarter and tarter can irritate your gums. I think this is where my mouth is now.
The bacteria and plaque can lead to gingivitis, gingivitis can then lead to periodontitis which is an infection of the gums and bone. Periodonitis can cause your gums to recede and in advanced cases cause your teeth to fall out.
"Periodontitis tends to be more severe among people who have diabetes because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. An infection such as periodontitis may also cause your blood sugar level to rise, which makes your diabetes more difficult to control. Preventing and treating periodontitis can help improve blood sugar control." From Diabetes and dental care: Guide to a healthy mouth, by the Mayo Clinic.
It gets even scarier...
"A 2008 study by scientists at the University of Bristol found that, when bacteria in the mouth get into the bloodstream through the gums, it can combine with platelets in the blood to create blood clots. If these reach the heart, they can cause heart attacks in people who are otherwise fit and healthy." From the article How flossing can save your life by Simon Usborne (interestly, this article was published on my birthday, May 18, 2010).