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The Connection Between Diabetes and Oral Health

August 31, 2018

Diabetes is a chronic disease which affects our body’s ability to process sugar. The resulting high blood sugar can cause problems with our eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of our bodies.

Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes from ‘Diabetes.co.uk’:


How Are Diabetes & Dental Health Related?

If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing some oral health problems.

The most common oral health problems associated with diabetes are:

Gum disease. Research has shown that those with diabetes are three times more likely to get periodontitis, the most severe, irreversible and destructive type of gum disease.

Fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing. If you develop a fungal infection, see your dentist.

Infection and delayed healing. Poorly controlled diabetes may delay the healing process after a surgical procedure, for example tooth extraction. To help the healing process, keep your blood glucose levels under control before, during and after surgery.



Gum disease and diabetes: A Two-Way Link

People living with diabetes have an increased risk of developing gum disease. The strong link between Type 2 diabetes and periodontitis has been shown by research studies. Nonetheless, emerging evidence shows that patients with Type 1 diabetes are at risk of developing gum disease. Our associate, Anastasios Plessas, in his MSc research study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, found that patients with Type 1 diabetes suffer from more bone loss around their teeth in comparison with their non-diabetic peers, even when taking into account other risk factors.

It is important to know that there is a two-way link between diabetes and gum disease. Periodontitis and severe periodontitis in particular, are associated with poor glycaemic control, but also poor gum health. Existing uncontrolled gum inflammation can affect the control of diabetes. Treatment for gum disease has been associated with improvements in glycaemic control in diabetic patients, with reductions in HbA1c of approximately 0.4% following treatment.


Oral health when living with diabetes

While it is important for everyone, regardless of their underlying health challenges, to take good care of their teeth, proper oral hygiene may be even more vital for those with diabetes. If your doctor has diagnosed you with this common chronic illness, it is important to share that information with your dentist. It is also important for you to share any oral hygiene concerns with your GP and any specialists you are currently seeing.

You should also pay close attention to your oral health, making sure to brush twice a day, floss or use interdental brushes daily, and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups.

It is also important to note that there is a definitive link between the consumption of sugary snacks and drinks and the development of cavities, gum disease and other dental problems. Limiting the consumption of these unhealthy foods is even more important for those with diabetes. Reducing the consumption of foods, snacks and drinks containing sugar, can also greatly reduce complications from your diabetes and also reduce your risk of becoming diabetic.


What we do at Dee Shapland Dental

At Dee Shapland Dental, we take your diabetes diagnosis seriously.

We do this routinely by updating your medical history at every appointment. We have blood sugar level monitoring kits and supplemental sugar tabs available for any patient suffering from low blood sugar. Our team receives annual training to deal with medical emergencies including hypoglaecimic shock.

Our dentists and hygienists monitor the health of your gums at every routine examination appointment and provide you with a tailored advice and treatment to improve the condition of your gums.

Keeping your diabetes under strict control requires having a conversation with your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis. We, at Dee Shapland Dental, always welcome and encourage those conversations.


Find out more:

Diabetes and gum disease (European Federation of Periodontology).

FAQ about gum disease and diabetes (British Society of Periodontology)

Diabetes and periodontal disease: a two-way relationship (scientific article)



This blog has been written by Anastasios Plessas, Associate Dentist



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