Gum Disease and Diabetes
By Nina Nazor
It is a well-known fact that high blood glucose levels
can affect the health of gums and teeth.
According to a recent report from
researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, gum disease can start early in life in kids with diabetes
and gets worse as children become adolescents if proper care is not taken.
team lead by Dr. Ira B. Lamster, evaluated the presence of periodontal diseases (infections of the gums and bone that keep
teeth in place) in 182 children and adolescents with diabetes, compared to 160 children and adolescents without diabetes.
They found that children with diabetes had much higher plaque and gingival
swelling levels compared to the children without diabetes.
Also, the group
of kids with diabetes ages 12 to 18 years had the worst signs of gum disease.
seems like there is a general lack of knowledge among people with diabetes about the importance of visiting the dentist for
a check up every 6 months.
These findings suggest that the health care team,
the parents of children with diabetes and the kids themselves must be aware of the vital role of oral health and good diabetes
control to prevent complications.
A note of caution is that gum infections
are a cause of poorly controlled diabetes, which can take the person to the hospital risking his or her general health.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
Some of the most common symptoms are the following:
- Deep red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
What can you do to prevent gum disease?
- Brush and floss the teeth every day
- Use an electric toothbrush
- Visit the dentist
every 6 months
- Keep good blood glucose control: below 120 mg/dL at fasting and below 180 mg/dL 2 hours after meals.
- Keep glycosylated
hemoglobin below 6.5%
Source: Lalla E, Cheng B, Lal S, Tucker S, Greenberg E, Lamster I. Periodontal Changes in Children
and Adolescents With Diabetes. Diabetes Care 29:295-299, 2006.