Diabetes: The ‘irreversible’ sign of advanced blood sugar damage that occurs in the mouth
Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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The burden of diabetes is becoming a growing concern in the medical field, with cases growing exponentially year on year. The condition occurs when the body is unable to respond or produce enough insulin, a hormone that takes up blood sugar. This malfunction causes blood glucose levels to skyrocket, bringing on a cascade of complications when left untreated. While the complications associated with advanced blood sugar damage are often situated in the legs and feet, it can also cause irreversible damage in the mouth.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, Americans with diabetes are at greater risk for tooth loss.
The study found that individuals with diabetes have an average loss of 10 teeth, compared with fewer than seven for those without the disease.
The team also noted that 28 percent of diabetics had lost all their teeth.
The prevalence of tooth loss was put down to high blood sugar, which could disrupt the delivery of nutrients and removal of debris from the gum tissue.
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As debris becomes lodged in the space separating teeth, bacteria begin to fester, setting the stage for periodontitis – the last stage of gum disease.
“Your mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
“When starches and sugar in foods and beverages interact with these bacteria, a sticky film known as plaque forms on your teeth.”
Periodontitis – also known as gum disease – is prevalent in the UK, with most adults believed to be afflicted to some extent.
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The Mayo Clinic explains that the higher the blood sugar levels, the higher the risk of tooth decay and advanced gum disease.
In gum disease, the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth become progressively destroyed.
“Eventually, periodontitis causes your gums and jawbones to pull away from your teeth, which in turn causes your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
Tooth loss has many causes, but one of the leading conditions behind tooth loss is the irreversible stage of gum disease that is periodontitis.
Early signs of periodontitis include bleeding of the gums, which will often appear swollen and puffy.
The condition can cause dull, gnawing pain, which can grow to become acute.
How to manage blood sugar levels
Managing blood sugar levels is the mainstay of diabetes treatment and prevention.
Avoiding foods that score highly on the glycemic index is key for taming blood glucose levels.
These typically include sugar-sweetened foods and some simple carbohydrates such as white pasta.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention also advises opting for foods lower in calories, saturated fat, and trans fat.
Regular exercise can also help keep blood sugar levels in check for periods of up to 48 hours, offering long-lasting effects.
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