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envisage Happiness Blog: General Dentistry

Link between diabetes and oral health

Link between diabetes and oral health

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Pavan Kaur in General Dentistry (clinic: Emsworth)


When we eat food and that food is broken down in the gut, it releases sugars. Those sugars are absorbed into the blood stream. In order for our body to be able to use those sugars, they need to be allowed to enter our cells. However, the door is locked and the key to open that door is called insulin. Without insulin the door stays firmly closed and sugar does not enter the cells. This means that surplus sugars are floating around in the blood stream. It is this which causes damage to organs.

In diabetes one of four things occurs:

  • There is no insulin produced (no keys to open the doors)
  • The amount of insulin is too low (not enough keys for all the doors)
  • The insulin is not effective (the key doesn't fit the lock any more)
  • Insulin resistant cells (someone has changed the lock!)

Diabetes affects around 2.8 million people in the UK, with a further estimated 850,000 undiagnosed. It can lead to heart disease, higher risk of stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of limbs. Thousands of people die each year as a result of diabetes and its effects.

High blood-sugar levels can lead to a build-up of plaques on the lining of arteries (called atherosclerosis). These plaques cause inflammation which also releases CRP. This has been suggested as one of the reasons why those with diabetes are more likely to get the conditions, such as arterial disease, that are linked to high CRP.

About 10% of the UK National Health Service (NHS) budget (approximately £14 billion per year) is spent managing diabetes and it complications. In addition is the cost to the economy of lost work days, and early retirement and social benefits (estimated to be another £15 - 16 billion each year). The other cost, which is harder to quantify, is the cost of living with a chronic disease, its side effects, and the risk of a premature death. As the prevalence of diabetes is increasing rapidly, these costs are likely to increase as well.

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