Wednesday November 14th is World Diabetes Day. This is a national day when millions of people around the world come together to raise awareness of diabetes. The theme of this year’s day is celebrating everyone who makes your life that little bit easier every day, from a family member, a friend or even your neighbour down the road.
such as gum disease. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you are around three times more likely to develop dental problems than non-diabetics. If you have Type 1 diabetes you also have a higher risk.
One reason for this increased risk is having high blood sugar levels over a long period of time. High blood sugar levels can damage the little blood vessels in your gums, which makes them more prone to infection. If you have too much sugar in your blood, you may have too much sugar in your saliva which means bacteria can easily grow and then produce the acid which attacks your tooth enamel and damages your gums.
What’s more, gum disease can itself increase your blood sugar levels which can lead to other diabetic complications too, such as heart disease. Oral health problems you may be at risk from include:
- gum inflammation (gingivitis)
- infection in the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth (periodontitis)
- dry mouth
- fungal infections
- irritated and sore mouth, meaning you might have difficulty wearing dentures
- tooth loss
Clearly, if you have diabetes, it’s really important to look after your teeth and gums so you should be visiting your dentist for regular check-ups. Early diagnosis and treatment make managing many of these complications much easier. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, make sure you check your blood sugar levels carefully and eat a healthy diet, low in sugary food. Give up smoking as smoking weakens your immune system, making it harder for you to fight a gum infection. If you have gum disease, smoking makes it harder for your gums to heal.