It's no secret that I don't have the best teeth. My dentist has told me some of that is due to diabetes. And the rest: just plain ole disdain of tooth brushes and dental floss since I was a kid. My bad.
Of course, this means that treating low blood sugars can be even more of a challenge -- especially in these days following Halloween, when there's a plethora of candy around the house. With fewer kiddos coming to the door thanks to cold rainy weather on Oct. 31, we have even more candy left over this year and it's been calling my name every time my blood sugars drop, which my teeth are not thanking me for.
Back in the day, I used to prefer Skittles as a way to boost my blood sugars when needed. And Halloween has always been a time to stock up on those little kid-sized fun packs of them, which seem like the perfect low treatment size, at 13 grams instead of 51 carbs in a regular-sized bag. But over the past few years, this perfection has waned -- thanks to my dental woes.
This all came to mind recently while reading a post over at Six Until Me about the Tootsie Roll of Doom, which reminded me of two important things: I've been slacking on my dental appointments and need to get on that, and this October had come and gone without any mention of it being National Dental Hygiene Month. Yep, there was a whole month focused on this important topic for us PWDs (people with diabetes), since we're more prone to dental issues than those without D.
It also made me reflect on how my choice in low treatments has dramatically changed in recent years...
I've had more fillings and crowns put on as the years have passed, and just over the past two years I have chipped a tooth and had a couple new crowns put on to replace some older ones. Of course, most of these issues involve my incisors and molars and that's made it more difficult to enjoy these chewing candies that I once enjoyed so much.
A couple of years ago, I went Low druing a plane ride to the West Coast and ended up pulling out a filling and chipping that tooth thanks to those pesky Skittles on a Plane. Starbursts and other chewy delights have also caused teeth issues for me over the years. And as it stands now, I actually can't remember the last time I chewed a piece of gum, or treated myself to gummy candies that were once my mainstay. Darn!
So needless to say, I've changed up my routine on Hypo Treatments -- especially during Halloween season. Sure, I still have been enjoying some of the fun-sized Skittles packs. But I eat them slowly and cautiously, and make sure to be mindful of what teeth I'm using (which really cuts into the fun). More often, I turn to juiceboxes, glucose tabs, or other options that limit or eliminate completely the need to chew.
Here is what I've been trying to do since this Halloween to beef up my dual dental and diabetes focus:
- Sucking on glucose tabs: Yes, I do that now. I've found that the tabs start off kind of hard and difficult to chew, but they dissolve pretty quickly if you let them sit in your mouth for a bit before chomping down. This feels like it's helping reduce the risk of my breaking a tooth or messing with my dental work.
- Brushing teeth after a night-time treatment: I know PWDs differ on this one. Lots of us hate feeling obligated to get up out of bed and brush teeth after being awoken by a Low. I certainly am guilty of just rolling over and going back to sleep without cleaning off all that fast-acting sugar residue clinging to my teeth. Net effect = bad! So clearly, more attention to post-low brushing and flossing is in order.
- Adjusting overnight basals: I realize that a big part of those late night lows is that my basal rates may not be ideal, and I've been reluctant to track these trends and make changes. But now I have the information in hand readily, with my Dexcom data at my disposal thanks to Nightscout, so no more excuses! It's time to analyze what's going on overnight, recognize where those hypos are coming from, and make the adjustments. By doing this, I can avoid the need for sugar treatments altogether.
That's where my mind -- and my teeth -- are at, right now.
I may fall into the category of both pancreatically-challenged and dentally-impaired, but there's no reason I can't do better on both fronts. At least if I make the effort, my dentist will be happy. And just maybe, I'll preserve some teeth and costs of dental work along the way.