Education lacking in diabetes-related gum disease
A national survey has highlighted there is a lack of education in gum disease relating to diabetes.
The British Society of Periodontology (BSP) and Diabetes.co.uk have teamed up to publish a report into oral health, as part of an annual drive to raise awareness of gum disease among health professionals and the public.
The BSP said there is strong evidence that people with diabetes have a higher chance of developing gum disease. However, of the 700 people with diabetes who participated in the poll, 50 per cent said they had never been advised of the risks by their doctor or dentist.
A third of them were unaware that diabetes affects gum health, even though 75 per cent of those surveyed reported having bleeding gums, which is normally a sign of an oral problem.
Professor Ian Needleman, BSP president, said: “Gum disease is a well-recognised complication of diabetes and impairs quality of life. It can affect diabetes control and is associated with poorer general health outcomes.
“We will be working very hard to get our message out to anyone with gum disease or diabetes – to talk to their healthcare professionals to look carefully for the symptoms of both conditions.”
Periodontitis or gum disease has links with many systemic conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cardio issues and diabetes.
As part of European Gum Health Awareness Day, which takes place on Friday, 12 May, the BSP wanted to focus on the huge diabetes community in the UK to help create an understanding of the symptoms and how each condition can link to the other.
It is already known that poor diabetes control and high blood sugar levels can cause complications such as damage to nerves, blood vessels, the heart, the kidneys, the eyes and the feet. The BSP say the gums can also become damaged by blood sugar levels and also poor glucose control can also lead to gum disease, which is why people with diabetes must be made aware of this and take extra care of their teeth and gums.
Diabetes.co.uk is one of the largest patient health forums in Europe with more than 500,000 members with a range of diabetic profiles.
It also has a database of 10,000 healthcare professionals. The BSP has commissioned two surveys to assess the levels of awareness, the first of which is now complete.
Charlotte Summers, chief operating office of the forum, said: “To be involved in this campaign and raise awareness about the links between gum disease and diabetes amongst both the diabetes community and healthcare professionals is of great importance to us.
“The results of the survey show that more education around the conditions are key and our aim is to help ensure the diabetes community gets the access to information and education to promote better health outcomes.”
To further support the campaign, Diabetes.co.uk has also produced educational videos on Diabetes and maintaining Good Oral Health. The BSP is developing the patient resources available on its website to help provide more information.