Researchers find many diabetics are unaware of the impact oral health has on their condition

Just about everyone could be doing more to improve their oral health, but this may be a particularly severe problem among individuals with type 2 diabetes. Experts say that despite the fact that poor oral health is linked to a number of health complications among diabetics, many are unaware of this and most do not take steps to improve their oral health.

Many of the same bacteria that infect the mouth when a person has gum disease can also be found in the cardiovascular system of individuals with heart disease. Some experts say that one condition can lead to the other. Given the fact that diabetics are already at risk for developing heart complications, they may benefit from paying close attention to dental matters.

However, a recent study published in the British Dental Journal showed that only about 13 percent of individuals with type 2 diabetes knew that swollen and tender gums can be caused by unregulated blood sugar levels. Furthermore, only 12 percent knew that there is a possible link between diabetes and loose teeth.

The researchers said their findings show that diabetics need to do more to improve their dental health. Given the strong correlation between oral infections and diabetes-related complications, they said there is no reason for individuals not to take care of their mouths.

"Dental and oral self-care tasks were rated as less important than other diabetes self-care tasks, such as taking prescribed medication or having regular eye checks," the researchers wrote in their report. "Around one-third of patients rated daily flossing as the least important health related activity."

They continued that type 2 diabetes treatment guidelines should incorporate recommendations for oral care, as this can play an important role in the ability of individuals to manage their condition.