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India being the country with the largest numbers of people with diabetes (40.9 million in 2007), is fast on its way to becoming the ‘Diabetes Capital’ of the world, with about eighty percent of the worlds diabetic population. Recently, the importance of good gum care practices for people with diabetes has been emphasized by the International Diabetes Federation.

How is diabetes linked to gum disease?
Gum disease, or periodontitis is long known as a complication of uncontrolled diabetes. Its common symptoms include red, swollen or bleeding gums and loose teeth, but many cases tend to be ‘Silent’ till a very late stage! It is caused by the bacteria harboured in dental plaque that forms on teeth and tartar build up. In diabetics, especially those with poor diabetes control, the body’s ability to fight this infection is hampered and untreated gum disease often assumes a more severe form.

What is important for diabetics to know is that, if untreated, this long standing chronic gum inflammation itself contributes to worsening the diabetes control. It is now medically proved that when gum disease has been treated in diabetics, their diabetes control tends to improve spontaneously.

What care should I take if I am a diabetic?
Gum care to prevent periodontitis, as well as treat existing gum infection, is of utmost importance for diabetics. Also, maintaining a good blood sugar level control is important for lowering your susceptibility to gum and other oral infections.

Prevention of gum disease includes rigorous oral hygiene practices, and regular dental visits for cleaning of tartar build up, known as scaling. An existing gum infection needs to be treated by scaling and root planing a procedure which removes the tartar from tooth and deep root surfaces. Severe cases may need specialist treatment including flap surgery and antibiotics. It is recommended that all diabetics visit the dentist at least two to three times a year to get oral health maintenance care and reap the benefits of a disease free mouth!

Contributed by : Dr. Aneesha Acharya