Posted December 16, 2012 by Michael J. Kora in Hot Topics

How diabetes affects vision and dental health

It&rsquos no secret that diabetes often goes hand-in-hand with other chronic circumstances, like heart disease, and can lead to a range of critical complications including nerve damage and limb amputation. When it comes to understanding how diabetes can have an effect on oral and visual health, even so, a lot of folks may possibly feel they are in the dark.

The Centers for Illness Control and Prevention (CDC) not too long ago identified that a single out of each two Americans 30 years or older has periodontal (gum) disease. Gum diseases are infections of the mouth that affect the tissue and bone that hold a person&rsquos teeth in spot and can lead to bad breath, abscesses and tooth loss. The danger for gum illness is even higher for the 26 million Americans residing with diabetes.

Gum disease can make it difficult to control blood sugar levels, and higher or uncontrolled levels of glucose in the physique can worsen mouth infections. This cycle can trigger painful gums and tissue that can sooner or later outcome in tooth loss. In truth, gum illness might be a first indicator that a particular person might not have manage of his or her blood sugar level.

Primary care physicians, dental and eye care specialists are teaming up to urge those residing with the disease to schedule typical checkups. These visits can assist regulate the illness&rsquos effect on oral, vision and overall wellness. For men and women who are not aware that they may have diabetes, particular indicators and symptoms can truly aid diagnose the illness.

&ldquoGood dental and vision wellness &ndash and nicely-controlled blood sugar &ndash are critical to managing diabetes and stopping serious complications that could impact the mouth and eyes,&rdquo says Dr. Michael D. Weitzner, vice president of National Clinical Operations for UnitedHealthcare&rsquos dental enterprise.

&ldquoDiabetes has the potential to weaken one particular&rsquos capacity to fight bacteria in the mouth and all through the physique. Unmanaged blood sugar can lead to difficulty fighting infection efficiently, paving the way for critical gum illness,&rdquo says Dr. John Luther, chief dental officer at UnitedHealthcare. &ldquoBecause periodontal disease frequently is painless, individuals may well not know they have it till the harm has currently been completed.&rdquo

In addition to affecting oral health, diabetes also can have a damaging influence on vision well being.

Diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when the disease damages the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, is the leading result in of blindness in the United States among people among 20 and 74 years of age. People with either variety 1 or type 2 diabetes are at threat of establishing diabetic retinopathy the National Eye Institute estimates that in between 40 and 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some kind of retinopathy. Vision complications associated to diabetes extend beyond retinopathy to incorporate elevated threat of developing glaucoma and cataracts.

&ldquoEye examinations play a substantial role in diagnosing, monitoring and managing diabetes,&rdquo says Dr. Linda Chous, chief eye care officer at UnitedHealthcare. &ldquoAccording to the CDC, latest research show that keeping one&rsquos blood glucose levels close to normal can support avoid or delay the onset of diabetes-related eye illness. All patients with diabetes should acquire a extensive dilated eye exam at least as soon as a year.&rdquo

Modifications in vision such as blurriness, seeing spots or persistent redness can be symptomatic of the disease. Other vision-connected complications of diabetes that can serve as early indicators of the illness contain double vision, dry eyes and lid infection.

This National Diabetes Month, Dr. Luther recommends individuals with diabetes take the following 4 precautions to remain healthy:

1. Examine your blood sugar often to make certain you are managing your levels efficiently.

2. Schedule regular dental and vision checkups and alert your dentist and eye care expert if you have diabetes.

3. Sustain an oral wellness care regimen of standard flossing and brushing utilizing toothpaste with an antiplaque or antibacterial ingredient and preferably with an electric toothbrush.

four. Make certain to take standard drugs prior to dental and vision visits unless your dentist or doctor instructs otherwise.

For diabetes management-associated tips, programs and more, go to www.unitedhealthgroup.com/diabetes.

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Michael J. Kora