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Diabetes Awareness Week

Diabetes Awareness Week takes place in June every year. Cheltenham-based dental practice, Illume is helping raise awareness by reminding people that looking after your teeth and gums is an essential part of living with diabetes.

Having prolonged high blood glucose levels can increase the risk of oral health problems, such as gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is the sixth most common disease in the world. It occurs when bacteria within the mouth begins to form into a sticky plaque which sits on the surface of the tooth.

Illume clinical director, Tim Rumney, explains “As diabetics have persistently high blood glucose levels they are more likely to develop dental problems. It is important for everyone, especially diabetics, to maintain an appropriate dental health programme including thorough brushing and cleaning between teeth every day and to eat a healthy balanced diet.”

Gum disease is classified on the severity of its development. There are three stages of gum disease:

• Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, initiated by plaque left in place by poor oral hygiene. It is characterised by swollen, red and tender gums leading to bleeding when brushing. Luckily gingivitis is reversible, and through improving your oral hygiene techniques and visiting your dentist and hygienist for advice on a home dental health care program, you can reverse this process.

• Periodontitis (Mild): In susceptible people untreated gingivitis can lead to mild periodontitis. The conversion of gingivitis to periodontitis is more common in people with risk factors such as smoking and who have a family history of gum disease, poor oral hygiene and uncontrolled diabetes. At this stage there will be damage to the gums and bone supporting the teeth. To arrest the disease, risk factors should be eliminated as far as possible along with a big improvement in daily, home, oral health care.

• Periodontitis (Severe): This is the most advanced stage of gum disease, characterised by significant tissue and bone loss around the teeth leading to loose teeth and eventual tooth loss.

Having prolonged high blood glucose levels can lead to gum disease developing or worsening more quickly but keeping your levels within a normal range reduces the risk of infection spreading.

Careful control of diabetes is essential and there is evidence that type 2 diabetes can be improved or even reversed through weight loss and dietary change.

For more information on gum health and the treatments we offer, visit our page.