In the wake of World Diabetes Day, taking place on Thursday, November 14th 2019, DeCare Dental takes a look at how Diabetes and Oral Health are connected and the importance of looking after your oral health in order to prevent further diabetic complications.
Did you know? You are 3 times more likely to develop severe gum disease if you have type 2 diabetes.
Statistics suggest that, by 2020, Ireland will have 233,000 people over 20 years old with diabetes. This is corresponding to a prevalence rate in the population rate of over 7.5%
Diabetes affects your body’s ability to control sugar levels in your blood. Much of the food you eat, especially carbohydrates, is converted into sugar and used for energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the body produces no insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced by the pancreas or else the body’s cells fail to react to insulin. Both cases result in high circulating blood sugar levels, which cause problems throughout the body including in the major organs. Key to the damage caused is failure of tiny blood vessels to form properly throughout the body.
Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually resolves once your child is born.
Uncontrolled diabetes where the level of sugar circulating in the blood is higher than normal causes damage throughout the body including the eyes, kidneys, heart, liver, nerves, blood vessels, immune system and the skin, but “how does it affect my mouth”, you ask?
Diabetes can cause Dry Mouth, Burning Mouth, Oral Thrush and contribute to Periodontal (gum) disease.
A plaque biofilm, if left undisturbed around the gum margin and if not removed daily, releases poisons which causes your gums to become red, swollen and in some cases bleed excessively when brushed. Gingivitis is a reversible condition and with a good brushing technique can be cleared up in a few days.
If you have diabetes, it is easier for untreated gingivitis to progress into periodontitis. In fact, a dentist may be the first health professional to suspect a diagnosis of uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes because of the presence of rapidly progressing severe periodontal disease. Signs of this are the gums beginning to fall away from the teeth and form spaces, called pockets which become infected with the plaque biofilm.
Untreated gum disease has been found to affect blood sugar levels making control and conversely patients who have comprehensive gum treatment can experience improved diabetic control (reduced HbA1c levels).
Untreated gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease process that releases enzyme like chemicals which may send harmful signals to other parts of the body. Coronary heart disease, preterm low birth weight babies (PTLB), respiratory infections and diabetes, are examples of serious health conditions that may be affected by the presence of untreated gum disease.
Gum disease is a silent and slowly progressive condition, so you may not notice any symptoms from the get go. You may have gum disease if you have ever noticed or have: