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Plum Puddings, Pies and Periodontitis

By Dr. Valerie Pereira

With Santa tumbling down the chimney, gifts under the tree, fairy lights, stuffed stockings, sticky toffee puddings and candy canes ’tis the season to be jolly indeed!

But have a care-too many mince pies will cause your blood sugar to spike high!

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High blood sugar, known as Hyperglycemia, can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. Lately, there has been a global epidemic of Type 2 diabetes with millions affected worldwide.

Diabetes negatively affects the body resulting in cardiovascular disease, renal disease, peripheral vascular disease, ocular disease, neuropathy and periodontal disease.

Sugar control is assessed by measuring glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in the blood. In simple words, this is the percentage of haemoglobin that holds glucose molecules in the red blood cells. A red blood cell has a lifespan of three months, and hence HbA1c measurements give an indication of the level of glycaemic control for the past three months. Non-diabetic persons have HbA1c of around 5.5%. Levels of 8-9% or higher indicate poor glycaemic control.

The Effects of Diabetes on the Mouth

Periodontitis which is a microbial, inflammatory disease of the mouth that causes loss of bone and teeth is the sixth complication of Diabetes. Diabetes increases inflammation, thereby leading to more destruction of Periodontal tissues. Patients with poorly controlled diabetes have defective WBC activity and a depressed immune system, so they are likely to display multiple periodontal abscesses.

Other consequences of diabetes include increased cavities , dry mouth, candidal infections and ulcers. In addition, patients with diabetes may also be prescribed drugs such as Nifedipine for hypertension which could sometimes cause gum overgrowth.

The Effects of Periodontal Disease on Diabetes

Periodontal disease negatively affects diabetes. Studies have revealed severe periodontitis to be associated with a risk of poor glycemic control and increased cardiovascular, eye and kidney complications.

In addition, it has been found that periodontal treatment is associated with reduction in HbA1c levels. This shows that a bidirectional relationship exists between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease.

In addition, it has been found that periodontal treatment is associated with reduction in HbA1c levels. This shows that a bidirectional relationship exists between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease.

What Does This Mean For The Diabetic Patient?

Diabetics are at higher risk of oral disease, particularly periodontitis, especially in non- controlled cases and should be made aware of it. Periodontitis, called a ‘silent killer’ since it is painless may not be noticed by the patient. So regularly undergoing dental check-ups is necessary.

Effective periodontal therapy is mandatory for Diabetics, who have Periodontitis as periodontal treatment shows improvements in glycaemic control.

So eat, drink and be merry this season but don’t let Diabetes come to town.

Merry Christmas!

About the Author:

Dr. Valerie Pereira is a consultant dentist who specialises in Peridontics (gums). She completed her BDS from AJ Institute of Dental Sciences, Mangalore. She then practiced in Bangalore before going on to do her Masters in Periodontics at Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Coorg. She is available for consultation in Panjim and can be contacted via WhatsApp on: 8208007184.

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