Healthy Teeth and Gums Lead to Lower Health Care Costs

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A reminder to take care of your teeth, courtesy of GI News:

People with diabetes are at greater risk of developing gum disease (gingivitis and periodontal disease) than people who do not have diabetes. Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the mouth can cause blood glucose levels to rise. The link is inflammation. The build-up of inflammatory substances in the blood can worsen chronic health conditions.

A recent study that involved checking the health and dental insurance records of 338,891 people with one of five conditions (type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy), found that periodontal therapy can improve health. The researchers report that within 4 years, people who had treatment for gum disease had lower medical costs and fewer hospitalisations compared with people who didn’t have treatment. For example, people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes who had the gum disease treatment had health-care costs that were between 20% and 40% lower.

Gum disease is usually caused by a build-up of plaque on teeth. One of the common signs is bleeding gums. Tips for maintaining healthy teeth and gums include:

  • Brushing twice a day with a soft, small-headed toothbrush. 
  • Carefully flossing each day. 
  • Visiting your dentist every six months for a check up and clean. 
  • Eating a healthy diet including plenty of low GI whole grains. 
  • Managing your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes. 

Quitting smoking if you do – people who smoke are 4 times more likely to develop gum disease than people who don’t.

© GI News, Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney

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