Diabetes is known to have a major impact on the entire body including the gums and teeth. People with uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease or gingivitis which can lead to periodontitis which in turn can cause premature tooth loss. A study conducted by the researchers from the University of Edinburgh and supported by their colleagues from the Peninsula Dental School, the University of Ottawa and UCL Eastman Dental Institute has shown that relation between oral health and blood sugar levels works both ways. Even more, their study reveals that treatment of periodontal disease helps lower blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes type 2.
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Diabetics are more likely to develop serious gum disease or periodontitis due to increased susceptibility to infections, impaired ability to fight bacteria invading the gums and slow healing rate. Periodontitis has been also shown to increase blood sugar levels making diabetes more difficult to control. This is believed to be due to chemical changes that are caused by the bacteria in the mouth which results in lesser insulin effectiveness and ultimately, in greater difficulties controlling blood sugar levels. Treatment and prevention of periodontitis as well as maintenance of oral health therefore helps blood sugar control in diabetics. This has been also confirmed by the results of the study from the University of Edinburgh which implies that effective treatment of serious gum disease helps control blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes type 2 though they could not confirm the same benefits for people suffering from diabetes type 1.
Blood sugar level control is crucial for prevention of diabetes complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, eye damage, bone and joint problems as well as series of other potentially serious complications which can severely affect the patient's quality of life and even lead to premature death. Maintenance of oral health should be therefore taken as seriously as healthy body weight maintenance, healthy diet, regular exercise, monitoring blood sugar levels and taking medications as prescribed. The importance of oral health maintenance for blood sugar level control also emphasize many leading health experts and organizations such as the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
People suffering from either diabetes type 2 or type 1 can only benefit from maintenance of oral health. The latter in first place bases on clean teeth and for that reason you should start with regular tooth brushing. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and even better, after every meal and snack. Learn proper brushing and flossing techniques and replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner. Avoid vigorous brushing and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent irritating your gums. Just as important as brushing is flossing because it is impossible to reach between the teeth with a toothbrush properly. It is also helpful to use an antimicrobial mouth rinse without alcohol and get regular dental cleanings and check-ups. See you dentists for regular checkups at least twice a year and watch for signs of oral health problems, especially of gum disease - redness, swelling and bleeding gums.
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Dr. Maritza Dominguez is the author of this article. She is a certified Dentist for Diabetics. Treatment of Oral complications from diabetes is her specialty.
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