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Oral health and diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disease due to high levels of sugar in the body and is one of the most common illnesses in Australia and one of the most controllable. This condition goes undiagnosed in people which can lead to poor health including oral health, diabetes makes it harder for those with the condition to control their blood sugar levels.

Some of the many complications from diabetes, when it comes to oral health include:

  • Burning sensations in the mouth
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth
  • An increase in the severity of infections
  • Impaired or delayed wound healing
  • Gingivitis and/or periodontitis
  • Parotid salivary gland enlargement
  • Secondary infections with candidiasis or yeast

When it comes to your teeth and diabetes, periodontal health is important. The periodontium includes the ligaments that surround each tooth root and the supporting structure including gums and bones. This system is important for maintaining healthy teeth and being able to chew food. Flossing once a day and brushing teeth twice a day will help prevent the bacteria’s responsible for gingivitis and cavities.

When blood sugars are not controlled it causes a rise of the levels of sugar in saliva which then increases the bacterial activity in your mouth. The immune system’s response to this is to create inflammation, leading to sore and bleeding gums.

It’s *human nature* – when something hurts we stop touching it. When your gums hurt, and you cut back on your oral hygiene habits you are allowing the bacteria to flourish which causes more inflammation, which in turn damages the ligaments, gum and bone around the tooth which causes periodontal disease. It is at this point that teeth will start to hurt. When your teeth hurt to compensate you start eating softer foods that are often higher in sugar and not as nutritional. When your teeth hurt it can be hard to make good healthy choices.

If you have diabetes and you slip with your diet due to your teeth, your diabetes becomes harder to manage due to a very preventable issue – periodontal disease.

The good news is when you go to your dentist for regular check-ups and cleaning that bacterial build-up/plaque is removed, and this allows your gums to start to heal. Performed regularly cleaning not only reduces the inflammation, but also the cause – those harmful bacteria’s that are making it harder to control your blood sugar levels.

It is important to understand that there is a relationship between oral health and diabetes. To be able to control your blood sugar levels correctly, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and to visit your dentist regularly, hand in hand it’s the best way to ensure a longer, healthier and happier life.

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