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Diabetes and dental health

Currently it is estimated that over 29 million people have diabetes, which translates to approximately 9.3 % of the population. Diabetes care options continue to surface; new medications, dietary advisements, improved glucose monitor technology emerge almost daily. Yet, the basic self-care advisories remain a priority.

Diabetes is a chronic medication that can be managed effectively, when treated with a team effort approach. Family members, as well as health care providers, should be guiding and supporting a person with diabetes. Lifestyle changes are much effective when the family joins in in the effort. Better eating habits, a healthier exercise regimen, proper sleep hygiene and smoking cessation are key factors in maintaining a stable blood glucose (sugar level) and overall well-being.

Another important area of comprehensive diabetes care is good dental care. In addition to a healthy diet and smoking cessation, many other diabetic related issues can affect your dental health. The normal mouth contains bacteria, which upon entering your blood stream, could cause major infections. Untreated/poorly treated diabetes can leave your mouth and teeth with bacterial buildup, and inflamed gumlines (a condition known as periodontal disease). Those inflamed, often bleeding areas on your gumline allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. As the condition worsens, the gumline remains inflamed/infected enough that decay and actual loss of teeth and bone density are possible.

Hence, brushing your teeth twice a day (and flossing daily) significantly lower the risk of diabetic related dental infections. If you wear dentures, it is equally important to take them out daily and clean them, to lower the risk of bacteria settling into the denture material and then your gumline. Equally important is the recommendation to see your dentist for routine dental care. In addition to actually cleaning your teeth, they can inspect your mouth for any open sores, areas of inflammation, receding gumlines, dental cavities and even early signs of oral cancer. The current recommendation is twice a year dental care visits (unless advised otherwise). Statistically, over 1 in 5 (22%) persons with diabetes has some form of periodontal disease. Make sure a dentist is part of your healthcare team and lower your risk of dental infections and more.

Diabetes and dental health are an important area of discussion in your overall health. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause gumline inflammation (infection); a (dental) infection can cause an increase in blood glucose levels. It is indeed a vicious circle if left untreated.


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