Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes & Oral Health Complications – Part 1

To shine a light on the upcoming World Diabetes Day (November 14), we’re posting a blog series on diabetes and how it relates to oral health.  First, check out these staggering facts from The National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017 recently published by The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

  • An estimated 30.3 million people of all ages—or 9.4% of the U.S. population—had diabetes in 2015.
  • This total included 30.2 million adults aged 18 years or older (12.2% of all U.S. adults), of which 7.2 million (23.8%) were not aware of or did not report having diabetes.
  • The percentage of adults with diabetes increased with age, reaching a high of 25.2% among those aged 65 years or older.1https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf

What is Diabetes?  

It is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems.2https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes

Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes

We’re sure you already know there are two types of diabetes, but here’s a nice breakdown:

Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease, which must be managed with the use of insulin.

In type 2, your body doesn’t use insulin properly, which is called insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. However, over time your pancreas isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose levels normal. Type 2 may be treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications and insulin. There are also more holistic, alternative treatments that seek to understand the cause of the metabolic disturbance and help bring it back into balance.

Health Complications from Diabetes

Over time, high blood glucose leads to problems such as

  • heart disease and stroke
  • nerve damage
  • kidney disease
  • foot problems
  • eye disease
  • gum disease and other dental problems
  • sexual and bladder problems3http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html

Since nearly 10% of the U.S. population is affected with this disease (mainly Type 2), we should all be aware of ways in which we can live healthier to protect ourselves from this condition as we age.  The good news is, that with the right diet and lifestyle habits, we can lower our chances of developing Type 2 diabetes and help prevent these health complications.  

Oral Health Complications

What about oral health in particular?  In our previous blog, What is Natural & Holistic Health, we touch on the fact that we now know that oral health impacts areas as diverse as cardiovascular and respiratory health. Diabetes can also be included here. And this is interesting…new research suggests that the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is a two-way street! Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.4 http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral-health.html Good oral health habits are really very important…

So how do you know if you have oral health complications as a result of Type 2 diabetes, OR that could lead to Type 2 diabetes?  We’ll focus on signs and symptoms to watch out for as we further explore the relationship between diabetes and oral health in our next blog post.


1 https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf
2 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes
3 http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/facts-about-type-2.html
4 http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral-health.html

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