Oral health and diabetes

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Periodontitis is a common chronic inflammatory disease which, left untreated, damages the supporting structures around the teeth. 


Gum disease affects almost one in four Australians.


This rate increases to more than half of all people aged over 65 years and increases again with a chronic condition.


Untreated gum disease becomes periodontitis. Over 40 percent of people over 55 years of age reported to have periodontitis during 2004 to 2006. 


This rate increases by 300 percent among people who live with diabetes. 


To prevent periodontitis, a client needs to adopt daily healthy mouth hygiene habits and attend a yearly check with a dentist.


Clients with dentures can still have gum disease and need to have a yearly gum check as well as practise healthy mouth hygiene habits such as flossing.  


Elevated blood glucose levels and plaque increases bacteria production in the mouth.  

The first sign of gum disease is bleeding gums when brushing teeth.  


Untreated gingivitis leads to periodontitis, which is a bacterial infection in the gums and other tissues in the mouth, leading to bone disease and tooth death. 


Treating periodontitis can result in lowering HbA1C by 0.4 percent.   


Also, studies have shown that periodontitis can be a warning sign of developing type 2 diabetes.


Periodontitis is an inflammatory response and if left untreated becomes an infection which requires antibiotic treatment.  Studies to date have not identified the exact cause.


Children with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of periodontitis. The presence of plaque is not a determining factor. 


Gum disease increases the risk of other chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and renal disease. 


Having periodontal disease increases macro-albuminuria by 100 percent and a diagnosis of end-stage renal disease is up to three times higher in a person with diabetes and periodontal disease. 


With these figures and impact on overall wellbeing, it's essential we include, as part of the annual cycle of care, a reminder for our clients to have a dental check once a year.


Preshaw P et al, 2012, Periodontitis and diabetes:  a two-way relationship, Diabetologia 55:21-31

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