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  • Writer's pictureHereford Dentist Andrew F

Dentistry and Diabetes – Andrew Farr Dentist

It is Diabetes Week from the 12th – 18th of June but what effect does it have for the dental team?

Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus) is a metabolic disease where there is an imbalance of blood sugar due to either the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. This leads to high levels for glucose (sugar) in the blood. There are three main types of diabetes mellitus:

Type 1 diabetes is characterised by loss of the insulin-producing beta cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, leading to insulin deficiency which is needed for the absorption of glucose from the blood. Type 2 begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses a lack of insulin may also develop. The primary cause is excessive body weight and not enough exercise. Gestational diabetes, is the third main form and occurs when pregnant women without a previous history of diabetes develop high blood-sugar levels

It is important to tell your dentist about your diagnosis. Whether you are type 1 or type 2 diabetic and if you are diet controlled, taking tablets or having insulin injections. This will allow your dentist to plan a preventative oral health programme, risk assess any oral health issues and also in the event of any medical emergencies – diagnose and treat accordingly.

Diabetes and dentistry

Although it may seem that diabetes and dentistry may have very little in common, studies show that Diabetes increases the prevalence of periodontitis, the extent of periodontitis (that is, number of affected teeth) and the severity of the disease. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes and established periodontitis may progress quicker and  be harder to treat, compared with people who do not have diabetes. In well controlled diabetes with HbA1c of around 7% (53 mmol/mol) or lower, there appears to be little effect of diabetes on risk for periodontitis. However, the risk increases exponentially as glycaemic control deteriorates. Overall, the risk of periodontitis in patients with diabetes increases by 2-3 times.

Medication and effects?

It is important to tell your dentist what medications you are taking. Occasionally, medications can have other oral manifestations, such as lichenoid mucosal reactions (White patches) to metformin. Other oral consequences of diabetes may include xerostomia (Dry Mouth) resulting in increased risk of dental decay, thrush infections and chronic mouth ulcers.

It is important therefore that people who are newly diagnosed as being diabetic are also informed of the increased risk they have of developing periodontal disease. The Dental and Medical profession should encourage regular dental and periodontal assessments as studies have also shown that poor periodontal control can also have an negative effect on glycemic control.

With good glycemic control, good plaque control and regular/appropriate periodontal treatment, Periodontitis can be controlled and managed.

If you need a dentist or further advice please contact:

Andrew Farr BDS(H0ns) MJDF

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