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Most diabetics do not change oral health habits after diagnosis, study finds

WESTPORT, Conn. Many active diabetes managers have not changed their oral care habits since being diagnosed, despite the fact they are at higher risk for developing serious complications from poor oral hygiene, according to a study by dLife, a multimedia network serving the diabetes community, and market research firm SoundView Research.

Furthermore, more than half of active diabetes managers surveyed had not been advised by their dentists to take extra care to brush, floss or rinse daily.

"The results of this study show the gulf that exists between perceptions and the connections between diabetes and oral health. Your dental health absolutely affects the control of your diabetes," stated Charles Martin, a dentist, author and founder of DentistryForDiabetics.com. "Inflammation in the mouth coming from gum disease spreads to the whole body. This inflammation increases insulin resistance, cholesterol levels and C-reactive protein levels. So, uncontrolled oral disease can be the hidden factor working against those trying to maintain good control over their diabetes."

Eight hundred people with diabetes were surveyed on their knowledge of what they considered "good" daily oral health care. Three-fourths believed their routines to be effective, even though 60% reported using floss and rinse less than once a day. More than half of the participants said they went to regular checkups and that their dentists were aware of their diabetes. One-in-5 believed a little bleeding when brushing was okay.

While 78% believed that "the mouth is the gateway to infection in the body," there still is a need for more education around diabetes and oral care, the research found. Sixty-two percent said they were unsure or disagreed that gingivitis makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.

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