/publications/issue/2003/2003-10/2003-10-7450

Proper Oral Health Is Crucial for Diabetics To Prevent Periodontal Infection

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    Diabetes can lower the body?s resistance to infection and slow the healing process?which makes diabetics more prone to oral health problems, including periodontal disease. For example, diabetic patients are greater than 2 times as likely to develop gum disease and to have persistent bad breath, bleeding gums, and teeth that are loose or separating. As a result, it is essential for diabetics to keep their glucose level within a healthy range and to visit the dentist at least every 6 months.To manage the oral complications associated with diabetes, physicians and dentists offer the following tips for patients:

? Eat a healthy diet

? Take insulin or oral medications as prescribed

? Advise the dentist about changes in medical or dental history

? Brush at least 2 times a day with an antibacterial fluoride-containing toothpaste that will help fight gingivitis, cavities, and plaque

? Floss daily to remove plaque between teeth

? Postpone dental surgery until blood sugar is under control For more information about diabetes and oral health, visit www.colgate.com. For decades, studies have been conducted on the effects of diabetes on the occurrence and severity of periodontal disease. A periodontal infection not only impacts glycemic control in diabetes, but it also affects the periodontium ?the tissues that help support the teeth.The mechanisms by which diabetes influences the periodontium (published in the November 2000 Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry) include:

? Vascular changes

? Glycation of proteins

? Changes in collagen metabolism

? Increased glucose in the gingival crevicular fluid by altering cell function in the periodontium

? Altered immune system

    Therefore, it is important for health care professionals to stress to patients with diabetes the importance of examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal infection.