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Healthy gums can help control diabetes

Healthy gums are often overlooked in favour of white, sparkling teeth, however keeping them clean is one of the most vital aspects of good oral hygiene. Gum disease can lead to bleeding, ulcers and more ailments. What’s more, a new study has found a link between having clean gums and being able to manage diabetes.

The research, published in the Journal of Periodontology by Iain Chapple and Robert Genco, found that severe gum disease has a clear effect on blood glucose levels. This can be important for most people, affecting their energy levels and mood, but for diabetes sufferers it is vital.

Managing the body’s glucose levels is one of the most vital aspects of living with diabetes. Sufferers have to plan their diet and medication around each other, so that their glucose levels do not get too low or too high. If an external factor is altering those levels, management of the disease can become much harder.

In the UK, around 3.8 million people suffer from diabetes. It is thought that, if current trends in lifestyle and diet continue, this figure will rise to five million sufferers by the year 2025. Ten per cent of the entire NHS budget is spent on diabetes, which totals around £10 billion going towards the disease. As such, it is vital that dentists take what actions they can to help.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: “This research is significant because it will help dentists to inform their patients with diabetes how they can take simple steps to control their condition. It sends a clear message that oral health should not be overlooked or considered less important when compared to other conditions.”

Pav Kalsi, Diabetes UK clinical advisor, said: “People with diabetes are at increased risk of gum disease. If you have been told by your dentist that you have gum disease, you should follow up with necessary treatment as advised. Without treatment, gum disease can get progressively worse, which may also affect your diabetes control.”

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