As part of World Diabetes Day (WDD) on November 14, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is warning diabetics about their risk of gum disease, decay and fungal infections and advises what can be done to minimise the risk.
Dr Peter Alldritt, Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, said: “The 2014-16 ‘Healthy Living and Diabetes’ theme for WDD is spot on. When it comes to oral health, healthy living is essential to ensure that gum disease is kept at bay for everyone. The importance of healthy living especially applies for diabetics.”
“In fact, there is a two way relationship between diabetes and oral health. Although diabetics have greater risk of gum disease, a healthy diet and the right oral health habits will decrease the severity of gum disease as well as improve their blood sugar control.”
Diabetics are at greater risk of gum disease because they are more prone to infections and are less able to break down sugar levels that result in greater acid levels in the mouth. Diabetics also suffer delayed wound healing, which has implications for wounds or injuries inside the mouth.
Gum disease is essentially caused by plaque. Unless proper brushing of the teeth occurs, bacteria and food will stay on the teeth to form plaque which causes inflamed, swollen gums. This eventually leads to bone loss around the teeth.
Diabetics need to be especially aware of the following signs of gum disease:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing, flossing or eating
- Persistent bad breath and bad taste in the mouth
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- Tooth sensitivity, food catching between teeth or loose teeth
The ADA’s tips for keeping your gums healthy are:
- Have a diet that involves consuming only a moderate amount of sugary foods
- Brush twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Stop smoking
- See your dentist for a check-up and professional clean twice a year