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Dentist reveals how much toothpaste you should use

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The British Dental Association estimates 30 million Brits have missed dentist appointments because of Covid. Not only is it vital to get your teeth checked for the sake of your dental hygiene, but did you know your dentist can be the first person to notice the signs of diabetes? Express.co.uk speaks to an expert dentist about the surprising sign his patients are appearing with, and how dentists can spot the signs of diabetes.

Gum disease is one of the most common chronic diseases, with a staggering estimated 90 percent of UK adults having some form of gum disease.

But could bleeding gums be a sign of more serious illnesses?

Dr Neil Sikka, Chief Dental Officer at Bupa UK Insurance, has noticed an increase in patients presenting with signs of gum disease after missing dental appointments due to the pandemic.

However, many are unaware of what this could mean for their overall health.

Dr Sikka says: “What most people don’t know is your dentist can be your first line of defence in spotting symptoms of wider health problems.

“By using some of the senses; sight, zoloft interaction touch, and smell, dentists are in a prime position to spot adverse health conditions in the mouth that could potentially affect the rest of the body.”

Your breath and gums can be symptoms of diabetes, and could be the first warning signs of heart disease and strokes.

So, what signs are your dentist looking – and sniffing – out for?

Sweet-smelling breath

Does your breath smell like a bag of sweets? It sounds a lot more fragrant than some bad breath smells, but it’s not necessarily a good sign.

Dr Sikka says: “Dentists are trained to identify odour coming from the teeth and gums.

“Certain smells mean different things; like the smell of pear drops or fruity-smelling breath can be indicative of uncontrolled diabetes and is something patients will need to see their doctor about.”

This is because of high levels of ketones, caused by your body burning fat instead of sugar because it can’t produce insulin, which is needed for breaking down glucose.

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Inflamed and bleeding gums

It’s well documented that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease.

However, research is starting to show the link works both ways; gum disease and infection can increase your blood sugar levels. They both influence each other, suggesting if one has developed, there’s an increased risk of the other developing too.

Because diabetes can raise the level of glucose in your mouth, this can make your mouth a fertile place for bacteria to grow.

High blood sugars also make it harder for your body to fight infection, meaning your gums can stay infected causing bad breath.

As well as being a possible symptom of diabetes, this can lead to even more serious events such as heart attacks and strokes.

This combination of increased bacteria levels and inflammation may damage the blood vessels which supply your heart and brain, which may link to heart disease and stroke.

How to keep your gums healthy

Dr Sikka says: “It’s clear there’s a link between dental health and other serious conditions.

“Maintaining a healthy mouth, particularly your gums, will help reduce your risk of complications from a range of health conditions and help improve your overall health.

“Be open with your dentist about any wider health concerns you may have. It helps us properly deliver our duty of care, and make sure everyone can live longer, healthier, happier lives.”

These are Dr Sikka’s seven top tips to keep your gums healthy:

  • Don’t forget to clean in between your teeth with floss, interdental brushes or picks and always floss first, then brush.
  • Brush twice a day, for two minutes, with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Change your toothbrush at least every three months, or sooner if the bristles are worn down.
  • If you use mouthwash, wait for at least 30 minutes after brushing. A mouthwash will wash away any fluoride from toothpaste that may be left on teeth.
  • Visit your dentist and hygienist for regular check-ups.
  • Know the signs of gum disease – if your gums bleed when you brush, or are red and swollen, it’s time to get them checked out.
  • Make healthier lifestyle choices – not smoking, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet all help reduce your risk of serious health complications, in your mouth and elsewhere.

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