Good Oral Health Especially Important For Diabetics

posted: September 26, 2017

The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that over 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. That’s 9.3 percent of the population and is an increase from a 2010 estimate of 26 million.  This does not include the one in four who have diabetes yet don’t know it.

The CDC states, “Diabetes is a serious disease that can be managed through physical activity, diet, and appropriate use of insulin and oral medications to lower blood sugar levels.  Another important part of diabetes management is reducing other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use.”

Based on health data from 2012, the National Diabetes Statistics Report was released in 2014 revealing that non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults. The age of those being newly diagnosed is also a particular concern. In the 2012 data, 208,000 people under the age of 20 were diagnosed with diabetes (both types). (https://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesfactsheet/)

Sadly, the rate of those struggling with diabetes is expected to triple in the coming decade. A National Institutes of Health report states diabetes is “a growing public health concern and a common chronic metabolic disease worldwide.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared diabetes to be at a pandemic level.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that compromises the body’s ability to properly secrete or manage insulin. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Diabetes is a leading cause of death because of the vascular complications attributed to it.

The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 (insulin dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent). According to the American Diabetes Association, the majority of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes with symptoms typically emerging after the age of 45.

Signs of gum disease

Early symptoms of diabetes include bad breath and bleeding gums although the general public rarely associates one with the other. For scientific researchers, however, the emergence of diabetes through oral problems makes perfect sense.

Periodontal (gum) disease is said to be the sixth greatest complication of diabetes. Like diabetes, periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition.

Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body.  Research has shown that gum disease is linked to other inflammatory diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis, and coronary artery disease.

With gum disease and diabetes, research has also shown that one tends to trigger the other. Gum disease has been found to occur more frequently – and with greater severity – in diabetics with poor glycemic control. On the flip side, properly managing glucose levels has shown to be helpful in preventing or treating periodontal disease.

Over 47% of American adults have some level of periodontal disease. Symptoms include gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, and tender and swollen gums. As gum disease progresses, the gums darken in color, pus pockets form and teeth loosen and may eventually require removal. Due to its widespread prevalence, gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Because diabetics have a particular vulnerability to internal inflammation, they are urged to be especially committed to good oral health. This begins by knowing the signs of gum disease, maintaining a thorough at-home oral hygiene regimen and having dental check-ups every 3-4 months.

Whether you are diabetic or not, you are urged to react to signs of gum disease promptly by having a thorough examination. Early symptoms are often ignored or deemed ‘normal,’ allowing gum disease to worsen and require more-extensive treatment. Remember – by the time obvious symptoms begin, the infectious bacteria are running rampant.

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