Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes and Oral Health

The mouth is known as the window to our bodies and health; and many signs of disease can express as oral symptoms. We now know that symptoms that appear in our mouth are often linked to our systemic health. Diabetes in Australia is currently known as an EPIDEMIC– meaning Australians are being diagnosed at a rapid rate of 280 people a day!

Diabetes affects almost all systems in our bodies, but did you know that diabetes is now classified as one of the MAJOR risk factors for gum disease (Periodontitis)? There is a vast amount of evidence now showing us that there is a direct two-way relationship between diabetes and gum disease.

How is this so, you may ask?

Diabetes and gum disease are both driven by inflammation. What does this mean? Well inflammation is our bodies’ response to protect itself from harm. Uncontrolled diabetes causes hyperglycaemia (excess sugars in the blood), which sends our body into panic and protection mode (inflammation). This inflammation causes stress within the body and impacts nearly every system. Gum disease also stems from inflammation; certain bacteria in our mouth if not cleaned properly, combined with other factors, causing inflammation in our gums.

Our body wants to attack these bacteria to protect itself and in doing so; actually destroys the tissue around the teeth, like the gums, bone and ligaments.

The link now becomes clearer – if uncontrolled diabetes is causing inflammation, and there is inflammation in our mouth, and we KNOW the mouth and body are linked; then we need to have control over them both to keep ourselves as a WHOLE healthy.

When your diabetes is uncontrolled your whole body is being affected by this long- term inflammation.  This sets up a cycle increasing your susceptibly to gum disease along with dental abscess, tooth decay, dry mouth, oral thrush, poor wound healing and possibly altered taste – all the signs your immunity is under attack.

This is also why medical histories in the dental clinic are important, as well as dental clinicians asking questions – as these things presenting in the mouth are often an indicator that something else may be going on in the body! It is important therefore, that patients are diligent with their oral hygiene, have appointments with their dental professionals at a recall that is tailored to them, but also; managing their diabetes to a controlled and healthy level- as we know this has a whole body impact.

Patients with any of the above oral symptoms should make an appointment with their dental provider, as we are trained to diagnose and manage this; but can also refer to other health professionals if needed.

Written by Lauren Bachli Oral Health Therapist at Boulton Dental

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