Dental health is a crucial aspect of diabetes management

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Both dentate and non-dentate diabetic patients must get an annual dental examination

New Delhi, 04th April 2018: Periodontal disease has been indicated as the ‘sixth complication’ of diabetes after others like kidney disease, damage to the retina, and heart disease. However, despite this, people living with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently, indicates a recent research. It is important to understand that maintaining good oral health can help in blood glucose control and prevent complications in the future.

Periodontal disease refers to chronic inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue and bone. Apart from having an adverse effect on blood sugar levels, it can also contribute to the progression of diabetes.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Severe periodontal disease has been shown to be an independent risk factor for mortality from ischemic heart disease and nephropathy. The mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria. The higher the blood sugar level, the greater the supply of sugars and starches and the more acid that damages the teeth. Gingivitis (early gum disease) is another condition, which if left untreated, can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis, which destroys the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Periodontitis tends to be more severe among people who have diabetes because this condition lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. This makes it imperative for both dentate and non-dentate diabetic patients to get an annual dental examination done.”

In people with diabetes, the extra sugar in saliva allows the fungus Candida albicansto cause an infection called candidiasis (thrush). This appears as sore white or red areas in the mouth.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “If you happen to notice any signs and symptoms of gum disease including redness, swelling and bleeding, it is better to visit your dentist immediately. Some other things to watch out for are a dry mouth, loose teeth, or pain in the gums. Above anything else, make sure you maintain your blood sugar levels in the targeted range.”

Some HCFI tips for oral health and diabetes.

  • Make sure to not skip any medications. Consume a healthy diet and exercise regularly. All this will help in good blood sugar control and in fighting bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Avoid smoking or quit if you are in the habit.
  • If you wear any type of denture, clean it each day.
  • Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft brush and clean between your teeth daily.
  • See your dentist for regular checkups.