diabetes and periodontal disease - colgate singapore

Understanding Diabetes Gum Problems

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

According to this Diabetes Singapore article "The Singapore Demographics of Diabetes", one in nine Singapore residents aged 18 to 69 years were affected by diabetes in 2010, and of this population, one in three does not know they have this condition. An estimated 430,000 (or 14% of) Singaporeans aged 18-19 years are also diagnosed with pre-diabetes – where blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough for them to be diabetic. Due to the prevalence of diabetes, it is critical to know how it can affect your body, and what to do if you detect gum problems.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is an illness that increases the risk for various health complications such as skin disorders, blindness, nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease and gum disease. The condition denotes the body's inability to produce or process insulin on its own, and therefore, blood sugar is harder to control. Some types of diabetes are preventable, so taking care of yourself is an important part of reducing your risk.

Efforts have also been made to educate the public about the link between diabetes and oral health. U Live, NTUC's community arm promoting active ageing and healthy living among its members age 55 years and above, organised a health talk on "Diabetes & Oral Health". Increasing awareness about the illness as well as its potential correlations to other illnesses help people to seek help and get the correct diagnosis and treatment earlier.

How Does it Relate to Gum Disease?

Research suggests the relationship between diabetes and gum disease is a two-way street. Gums that are red, bleed easily or even recede from the teeth are all common symptoms of gum disease. According to SingHealth, people with diabetes have a greater risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay and other oral health problems as high blood sugar levels can weaken the patient's immune system defenses, making diabetics more prone to developing infections. It's a two-way street: People with diabetes are more at risk of gum disease; and untreated gum disease can cause blood sugar to rise.

What Can I Do?

If you are diabetic and want to prevent diabetes gum problems, you must first control your blood glucose levels. If your blood sugar is not well regulated, you may need to postpone any non-emergency dental procedures. People diagnosed with diabetes and pre-diabetes need to be extra proactive with their oral health. Good oral habits should include brushing for two minutes twice a day and using floss at least once a day. Even with these good habits, professional dental cleanings may need to be scheduled more often, every three to four months, in order to maintain oral wellness. Make sure you see your dentist if you experience any signs of gum disease – such as red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, bad breath or loose teeth. Other oral health problems associated with diabetes include fungal infection and dry mouth.