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Diabetes and Oral Health Must be Treated in Tandem

Posted on 30.11.2013 by perfectsmile

The first of these changes lies in the fact that a modern clinic can offer much more than the prevention of decay and pain relief. It can, in fact, offer a range of cosmetic treatments designed to completely alter the appearance of your smile, from the whiteness of the enamel to the positioning of the teeth themselves, meaning you can aim for the kind of dazzling Hollywood smile you’ve always aspired to. On top of this, and perhaps even more importantly, there is the fact that the links between dental problems and more deep seated health worries are now more apparent than they’ve ever been, with the upshot being that following oral health care tips may help to ward off illnesses as drastic as heart disease, hardened arteries and diabetes.

To take this last example, research undertaken in recent years has underlined the fact that anyone suffering from diabetes is three to four times more likely to find themselves developing periodontal disease. Even worse than the increased chance of the condition being present is the fact that the symptoms, in terms of gum infection and bone loss, will probably be more severe.

Diabetes Explained

Diabetes is a condition which entails the body failing to produce or use the right levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone which helps to convert starches, sugars and some other foodstuffs into energy. If you are suffering from diabetes then your body doesn’t manage to turn food into the fuel you require and the sugar levels in your blood stay too high. Higher blood sugar levels such as this can cause problems and complications for a patient’s kidneys, heart or eyes, to list just a few of the possible ramifications. There are different types of diabetes and, at any given time, many millions of people are walking round unaware that they actually have the condition. Variations of diabetes include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes, with the majority of sufferers having type 2.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Cuts and bruises which take too long to heal
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • On-going thirst and hunger
  • The need to urinate frequently
  • Hands or feet which are numb or tingling
  • Constant tiredness
  • Blurring of the vision

It should be noted, however, that many people suffering from diabetes do not in fact display any symptoms.

Periodontal Disease Explained

Also referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease is a bacterial infection which attacks the ligaments, gums and bone which keep your teeth in place in the jaw. If allowed to go unchecked it may become so serious that the teeth actually fall out. Periodontal disease is caused by the build-up of plaque, a clear, transparent sticky coating which forms on the teeth. Bacteria which are present in plaque irritate the gums and cause infection.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Gums receding from the teeth and exposing the root
  • Bleeding during brushing and flossing and gums which are red, swollen and tender
  • Build-up of white or yellow plaque between the teeth

The link between diabetes and periodontal disease is symbiotic – diabetes can make it more likely that you might develop periodontal disease, whilst the presence of periodontal disease can raise your blood sugar levels and make controlling your diabetes more difficult. Your dentist and doctor should liaise and work together to bring your periodontal disease under control and thus to make the control of your blood sugar less problematic. If your diabetes is being well managed then the treatment for periodontal disease should follow a standard pattern, meaning that the plaque and calculus will be removed and your teeth cleaned. If your diabetes is not so well controlled, or the periodontal disease is more severe, then your dentist may well recommend scaling, planning or even periodontal surgery.

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