How gum disease affects your blood sugar control, tips to prevent diabetes-related dental problems  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock
New Delhi: Poor oral health can negatively affect your health in various forms. World Oral Health Day (WOHD), celebrated globally every year on 20 March, emphasises on the importance of optimal oral health in maintaining general health and well-being. This day spreads awareness about good oral hygiene practices among adults and children alike. But did you know that there is an association between gum disease and blood sugar control in people with diabetes?
Looks like your oral health is more important than you may think. Studies have shown that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis – a more severe form of gum disease – might play a role in some diseases, including diabetes. Common signs and symptoms of periodontitis may include sensitive teeth, red or swollen gums, bad breath, loose teeth, tender or bleeding gums, etc.
The connection between diabetes and gum disease
According to the American Diabetes Association, there is evidence suggesting an increased prevalence of gum disease among people with diabetes. Like other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, gum disease is linked to poor diabetic control.
Research has found that people with poor blood sugar control tend to get gum disease more often and more severely than those whose diabetes is well controlled. They also lose more teeth compared to patients with good blood sugar control. This happens because diabetics are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, as well as have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that may invade the gums.
Also, children who have IDDM (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) are also found to be at a higher risk for gum problems. Therefore, good diabetic control is the best protection against periodontal disease, especially if you have diabetes.
Diabetes and serious gum disease: Is there a two-way street?
Research shows that the link between diabetes and serious gum disease is a two-way– meaning not only diabetics are more prone to serious dental problems but gum disease may affect blood sugar control and worsen diabetes symptoms.
Apart from diabetes, certain conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease can affect or make your oral health problems more severe by lowering the body’s resistance to infection.
How can you protect your oral health or prevent dental problems associated with diabetes?
Good oral hygiene practices can help protect your oral health, keep your teeth strong and healthy. For instance:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride.
- Floss everyday.
- Make sure that you replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner.
- Do not use tobacco.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients.
- In case you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily.
- Schedule regular dental checkups every six months.
Likewise, if you have diabetes, the first and foremost thing is to control your blood sugar level. Proper blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes. It may be noted that diabetics have special needs when it comes to oral health, besides medication and a healthy lifestyle to manage blood sugar levels.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.