Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes is an Australian health epidemic. Currently, 1.7 million Australians have been diagnosed with all types of diabetes, and an estimated 500,000 more living with the condition undiagnosed. Several studies have found dramatic correlations between oral health problems and diabetes, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, delayed mucosal wound healing, dental caries (cavities), mucosal neuro-sensory disorders and tooth loss. Diabetics who have poor oral health can in turn exacerbate their diabetes. A national Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed a significantly higher prevalence of periodontitis in diabetics than in non-diabetics (17.3% versus 9%). The most common oral health problems affecting people with diabetes:
- Dry mouth
- Tooth decay
- Gum abscesses (an infection of the tooth and or gums)
- Mouth ulcers
- Gum disease
- Taste disturbances
Why do people with diabetes have a greater risk of oral health problems?
Poor blood glucose control increases the occurrence of bacteria growth and as a result increases the chance of infections. High blood glucose levels creates dry mouth, which increases the chance of tooth decay. Diabetes medication and medication for diabetes symptoms may also cause symptoms of dry mouth. Some diabetic patients require high in sugar treats such as lollies and soft drinks, which can cause tooth decay.
Figure 1: Diabetes Statistics Australia
Important tips to help prevent oral health problems
- Maintain healthy blood glucose target levels (talk to your diabetes educator, diabetes specialist or GP if you are unsure what your target levels)
- Healthy diet and exercise (an Accredited Practicing Dietitian can help you with this)
- Brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste that has fluoride.
- Remove bacteria from your mouth by gently brush your tongue each day.
- Clean between your teeth using dental floss or interdental cleaners twice a day to clean between your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production and prevent dry mouth.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a check up and professional clean. Even if you wear dentures you can still get gum disease (highly skilled Dentists and Oral Hygienists from Dental on York can help you with this).
- Don’t smoke.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes visit your Dentist
Dr George Lee, Dr Andrew Lee and Dr Santosh Bassi from Dental on York are experts in oral health and can work with you to make unique and individual preventative dental plan that will help you get in front of the oral health problems associated with diabetes. There is no cure for diabetes but by working with your Doctor and your Dentist you can effectively manage it.
Figure 2: Diabetes in Australia Infograhic
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