According to researchers in the report “Oral health awareness in adult patients with diabetes: a questionnaire study”, published in the latest issue of the British Dental Journal (BDJ), several individuals who suffer with diabetes are not aware that their oral health is closely connected to their risk of developing complications.

The authors say that inflammation from gums that are swollen can increase the severity of diabetes, increase deaths from oral cancer as well as pre-malignancies, and make cardiovascular disease worse. They also explained that diabetes that is longstanding and poorly controlled seems to speed up the development of gum disease. If gum disease is untreated, it can lead to loss of teeth.

However, a survey of that consisted of 229 adults visiting a diabetes clinic, discovered that the majority were unaware of any connection between dental health and their condition. Only 13% of participants were aware that swollen or tender gums could be affected by the disease, or vice versa, and only 12% knew there might be a connection between the disease and loose teeth.

The investigators from Warwick Medical School said:

“Dental and oral self-care tasks were rated as less important than other diabetes self-care tasks, such as taking prescribed medication or having regular eye checks. Around one-third of patients rated daily flossing as the least important health related activity.”

Commenting on the discoveries, the British Dental Association (BDA)’s Scientific Adviser, Professor Walmsley, explained:

“This study adds to the growing body of evidence linking oral health to general health and well-being. It’s important that healthcare professionals, dentists included, make people with diabetes more aware of this link.

Brushing teeth twice a day, every day, with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and seeing the dentist regularly will go a long way to protect teeth and gums and, it seems, reduce the risk of developing complications from diabetes.”

The BDA hopes the development of a novel, outcomes-focused contract in England, (pending the results of pilots launched earlier this month), will make it more simple for dentists to take on a more preventive approach to dental care.

Written by Grace Rattue Source: British Dental Association