World Diabetes Day falls on 14 November. It was introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to the alarming rise of diabetes around the world.
It is projected that by 2030, the number of Singapore residents above 40 years old with diabetes will hit 600,000. This is a 50% increase from about 400,000 today. World Health Organization estimates that more than 346,000,000 people worldwide have diabetes.
These are alarming numbers, considering the fact that diabetes is a chronic lifelong disease.
People with diabetes have a higher risk of serious gum disease (periodontitis) because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have lesser resistance against the bacteria that invade gums. Research shows that there is an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes, adding to the list of other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. There has also been emerging research that suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease (periodontitis) and diabetes is two-way. This means that not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to periodontitis, but that periodontitis may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.
Other oral problems associated to diabetes include thrush (an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth) and dry mouth (which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities).
As there is no cure for diabetes, prevention and early detection is key. Here are some tips for a healthy diet and health teeth:
1. Eat your grains, fruits and vegetables
Whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals (protective plant chemicals). Fruits and vegetables are similarly low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre.
2. Pick protein-rich foods
Lean meats, fish, yoghurt, legumes and nuts are good sources of protein-rich foods that are also lower in fat and cholesterol.
3. The rule of twos
Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and see your dentist twice a year. When brushing, angle your brush 45 degrees toward your gum line, and use gentle, circular strokes.
If you are diabetic, keep your dentist informed of any changes in your condition, including changes in any medication you might be taking.