Gum disease warning for World Diabetes Day

Dr Peter Aldritt, chair of the ADA's oral health committee.
Dr Peter Aldritt, chair of the ADA’s oral health committee.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) says that diabetics are at greater risk of developing aggressive gum disease. So as part of World Diabetes Day (WDD) today, the Association wants to warn diabetics about their risk of gum disease, decay and fungal infections and advise what they can do to minimise that risk.

Dr Peter Alldritt, Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, said: “The 2014-16 ‘Healthy Living and Diabetes’ theme for WDD is spot on. When it comes to oral health, healthy living is essential to ensure that gum disease is kept at bay for everyone. The importance of healthy living especially applies for diabetics.”

“In fact, there is a two way relationship between diabetes and oral health. Although diabetics have greater risk of gum disease, a healthy diet and the right oral health habits will decrease the severity of gum disease as well as improve their blood sugar control.”

Diabetics are at greater risk of gum disease because they are more prone to infections and are less able to break down sugar levels that result in greater acid levels in the mouth. Diabetics also suffer delayed wound healing, which has implications for wounds or injuries inside the mouth.

Gum disease is essentially caused by plaque. Unless proper brushing of the teeth occurs, bacteria and food will stay on the teeth to form plaque which causes inflamed, swollen gums. This eventually leads to bone loss around the teeth.

Diabetics need to be especially aware of the following signs of gum disease:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding gums when brushing, flossing or eating
  • Persistent bad breath and bad taste in the mouth
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, food catching between teeth or loose teeth

The ADA’s tips for keeping your gums healthy are:

  • Have a diet that involves consuming only a moderate amount of sugary foods
  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Stop smoking
  • See your dentist for a check-up and professional clean twice a year

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  1. The States Patient Assisted Travel Schemes will not cover dental treatment even if the patient has aggressive gum disease, a history of dental abscesses, diabetes, asthma and a BMI >36 bureaucratically necessitating anaesthesia by a specialist anaesthetist. A case of the right hand of State policy thwarting the Commonwealth mantras of better health for rural people and closing the gap for Aboriginal ill-health.


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