Diabetes and Oral Health

The United Kingdom is facing a huge increase in the number of people suffering from diabetes. In 1996 1.4 million people were diagnosed with diabetes, by 2010 this figure had increased to 2.8 million. Diabetes occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood, this high blood glucose is referred to as blood sugar. It is a very serious disease and can cause damage to many parts of the body, such as the heart, eyes, kidneys and blood vessels.

People who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk of oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). A serious case of gum disease is a risk that diabetes sufferers face, because they are much more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight the bacteria that invade the gums. High blood glucose can very often make tooth and gum problems worse. The high blood sugar allows bacteria and germs to grow and this could eventually lead to teeth falling out. Smokers that suffer from diabetes and who are over 45 are more likely to develop gum diseases.

Oral health is a major concern in a person who suffers from diabetes. Bad breath, an irregular bite, bleeding gums, red swollen gums, loose or sensitive teeth may all be signs of gum disease. If someone is suffering from these signs they should contact their dentist immediately.

In order to stay healthy and avoid gum diseases, several actions need to be taken. Diabetics are prone to several other systemic diseases and conditions that affect all parts of the body. Controlling blood glucose levels and taking medication is the first most important step. The second action is to follow a healthy diet plan that may be suggested by a doctor. Blood pressure and cholesterol also need to be monitored and controlled. Flossing and brushing teeth daily is a hugely important factor in order to avoid gum disease. Following the healthy eating plan, being active for 30 minutes daily and no smoking will help to avoid oral diseases.

If a person is suffering from diabetes and has not noticed these oral health problems themselves, a doctor needs to be informed prior to dental work being done. The doctor can then suggest how to monitor the blood glucose during treatment. Depending on the type of procedure that needs to be carried out, plaque removal, dental implants, surgery soft tissue grafts etc., the dentist might ask the patient to bring medicines along to the surgery.

Planning ahead is essential in maintaining good oral health and can thus lead to avoiding problems in the future.