Specialist Periodontist Dr Wadia discusses clear link between gum disease and diabetes

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Dr Reena Wadia BDS Hons (Lond) MJDF RCS (Eng) MClinDent (Perio) MPerio RCS (Edin) FHEA, 

Gum Specialist at RW Perio, London

Getting your gums checked is important if you have diabetes

People with diabetes are at a much greater risk of getting gum/periodontal disease. If left untreated this condition will lead to tooth loss and may also negatively impact on your diabetic control. 

It’s important to be screened for gum disease as in the early stages you may have few symptoms. The most common are bleeding after brushing, red or swollen gums, bad taste, bad breath, loose teeth, spaces opening up between the teeth and a change in tooth position.

If you are diagnosed with gum disease, the earlier it’s detected, the quicker it can be treated and the better the outcome will be. Even if you don’t have gum disease, your dental professional will be able to give you preventative advice. At minimum, even if your gums are healthy, you should be going for yearly screens. 

If you are diabetic, you may also suffer from a dry mouth, a burning sensation in the mouth or poor healing of any mouth wounds or ulcers. Your dentist may be able to help you manage these issues.

Keep your dentist up-to-date

To ensure you are appropriately managed and your risk can be accurately determined, always keep your dentist up-to-date with the medication you are on and your level of control. The most helpful figure to always make a note of is your HbA1c level.

There is good news

There is now evidence to suggest that treating periodontal disease may actually improve your diabetic control and also reduce the chances of diabetes complications. 

Bleeding gums may increase your risk of getting diabetes

If you don’t have diabetes but you have periodontal disease, then you are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.  So make sure you get your gums checked and any periodontal disease treated.

But how?

It’s important not to see the mouth in isolation from the rest of the body. Everything is connected. Links between gum disease and diabetes and vice versa involve an increase in various inflammatory mediators. These have been shown to interact with the gums and cause more destruction. They can also increase the risk of diabetes and negatively impact on diabetic control. 

Always remember, both are chronic conditions, which will always require your close attention and regular medical as well as dental care.

Ask Dr Wadia a question here:

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