Did you know that there is estimated to be over 4 million people living with diabetes in the UK at present. This represents 6% of the UK population or 1 in every 16 people having diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed).
Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. All food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy.
In Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.
Having diabetes means you’re more at risk of dental problems like gum disease, also called periodontal disease which means gum disease and infection can in turn increase your blood sugar levels, which can further problems to your health.
Signs of gum disease in diabetics
Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. So what are the first signs?
- red, swollen, and bleeding gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- long-lasting infection between the teeth and gums
- bad breath that won’t go away
- permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from one another
- changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- sometimes pus between the teeth and gums
- changes in the fit of dentures, which are teeth you can remove
You can help prevent gum disease with diabetes by avoiding acidic drinks, like energy drinks and water with lemon, these can erode the enamel of your teeth which can lead to decay. Flossing daily between each tooth can also help, as can brushing your teeth and gum line for a full 2 minutes, twice a day. Use a soft bristle brush, using gentle strokes. Brushing your tongue for a few seconds, can also aid in the removal of bacteria.
Treatment of gum disease
It can be successfully treated, especially if caught early. Management includes improving daily plaque removal techniques and by having an intensive course of treatment, in which the teeth are thoroughly cleaned by a dentist and/or dental hygienist. It is important to understand that the treatment of periodontal disease is a partnership between the patient and the clinicians who care for the patient. Achieving and maintaining good plaque removal and attending regular dental appointments are a lifelong commitment.
Treatment also involves stopping smoking and having a healthy lifestyle. People who smoke respond less well to treatment than non-smokers. Choosing the right food and drink is imperative to successful prevention and also treatment, following a healthy, balanced diet which is low in sugar is not only conducive to your teeth, but also your overall health.
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