Type 2 diabetes can lead to tooth decay – something you may not have thought was linked to high blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the blood can lead to more sugar in the saliva, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Diabetes UK charity stated that the bacteria in the mouth then produce acid that attacks tooth enamel and damages the gums. Blood vessels in the gums can also be attacked by the bacteria and cause infections.
The double punch is that gum disease and infection can then trigger even higher blood sugar levels, putting you at higher risk of major complications like heart disease.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and infections of the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth (periodontal disease).
There can be problems with oral thrush, dry mouth, tooth loss, or abscesses.
Early signs of dental problems include redness, pain, and bad breath.
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If you are concerned that you have diabetes but want a clear answer, it is best to arrange a blood test through your doctor.
Discuss your concerns and any symptoms, and the doctor can arrange for your blood sugar level to be checked.
Your results may come back as “pre-diabetes,” which means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
However, this means that you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
How to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
There are three main steps to reducing your risk of diabetes:
- Eat well
- Move more
- Lose weight if you have to
A healthy diet
To eat well, you need to cut all energy and sugary, carbonated drinks from your diet.
This also means enjoying a cup of tea or coffee without adding sugar and avoiding fruit juices or smoothies.
Instead, the charity recommends drinking plain water, regular milk, and unsweetened tea and / or coffee.
To eat healthily, swap refined carbohydrates for whole grains. Diabetes UK lists simple swaps such as:
- Swap white rice for brown rice
- Swap white bread for black bread
Choose whole wheat pasta, flour, bread, and oats that are noted on the food labels.
Other healthy sources of carbohydrates include:
You also need to cut down on red, processed meats and opt for healthier protein.
- pork meat
Eat more of:
- Unsalted nuts