Diabetes is a complicated condition that can lead to a whole array of other medical problems down the road – sometimes even if you're careful about monitoring your blood sugar. Often, the way to handle these problems is to be proactive. By keeping an eye out for them and talking to a healthcare provider the first time you notice a little sign of an issue, you can generally prevent conditions from becoming worse. Preventative measures can help protect you, too! Here's a look at three dental issues that are common in diabetics, and what you can do to prevent them or catch them early.

Dry mouth.

Many diabetics experience decreased saliva production. Perpetual dry mouth makes the mouth an appealing breeding grounds for the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Thus, it's essential to work to prevent dry mouth by sipping water throughout the day, chewing on sugar-free gum to boost saliva production, and replacing your mouthwash with one made specifically for dry mouth sufferers.

If you do notice signs of dry mouth in spite of taking these actions, talk to your dentist, who can recommend a medication to boost saliva production before your dry mouth costs you your teeth.

Tooth Decay

Even if you do not experience dry mouth as a diabetic, you're at an increased risk of tooth decay because of your body's decreased ability to fight off bacteria, including those that cause this decay.  To keep your risk of dental caries in check, be very vigilant about your oral hygiene. Take your toothbrush with you, so you truly can brush after every meal. Set an alarm to remind yourself to floss. Keep your dental cleaning appointments, and consider having your teeth professionally cleaned more often than the standard twice per year.

If you notice early signs of tooth decay, which include pain in a tooth and the appearance of a dark spot on the tooth, get to the dentist promptly. Having the cavity filled promptly will prevent the decay from getting worse.

Gum Disease

The same bacteria that cause tooth decay can also cause your gums to become sore and inflamed. Luckily, gum disease can be prevented if you're careful to floss daily and to brush your gums when you brush your teeth. This is not nearly as uncomfortable as it sounds as long as you use a brush with soft bristles.

Signs of gum disease include inflamed, sore gums and bleeding when brushing. If you notice these signs, mention them to your dentist, who can recommend a rinse to help fight gum disease more aggressively. If you leave the condition unchecked, an advanced cleaning procedure called dental scaling may be necessary in order to stop gum disease in its tracks.

As a diabetic, you are prone to the same dental issues as everyone else – you're just at an increased risk of developing them. Follow the advice above, however, and you should be able to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Contact a dentist, like Martinsville Family Dentistry, for more information.