More than 4 million people in the UK are believed to be living with diabetes – that’s 6% of the total population. Only around 3.5 million have been diagnosed, which means there are still hundreds of thousands of people who don’t yet know they have the condition.
Today (10th June) marks the beginning of Diabetes Awareness Week. So we at BPI Dental thought we’d share the facts you need to know to look after yourself and your loved ones.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a potentially serious condition where a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is too high. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 means the body can’t produce insulin, while Type 2 means that the body produces too little or ineffective insulin. The first is caused by a genetic predisposition, while the latter develops later in life and is linked to obesity.
In both conditions, glucose can’t enter cells and therefore just stays in the blood, which causes various problems. These include serious damage to the heart, eyes, feet and kidneys over time, so diagnosis and treatment are really important.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Most people will experience symptoms of diabetes on a regular basis with nothing to worry about. However, when several symptoms are spotted at once, it’s important to visit your GP. These might include:
- Being very thirsty
- Going to the bathroom a lot
- Feeling tired for no particular reason
- Losing weight without trying to
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts that take longer to heal than usual
- Blurred vision
For identifying diabetes in children, Diabetes UK suggests following the three Ts – Toilet, Tired, Thirsty and Thinner. It’s important to visit the GP as soon as possible if you see these signs in a child.
How does diabetes impact oral health?
People with diabetes are more likely to have issues with their oral health as well. It is therefore very important to visit your BPI dentist and/or dental hygienist regularly, so we can monitor your dental health and provide support when needed. Possible side effects of diabetes might include sore, receding, swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth and bad breath. There is also a close link between diabetes and gum disease (gingivitis). Fortunately, though, by avoiding or effectively treating gum disease before it gets too serious, this can improve blood glucose levels. The same is true for the other way around – manage your blood sugar level and you’ll enjoy better gum health.
If you are concerned about the health of your gums, whether you have some form of diabetes or not, we can help. Our experienced dental team can provide many different treatments to help you improve and maintain your oral health. Give us a call today to find out more.