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Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body not producing enough insulin, or the body not reacting to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that’s used to convert sugar in the blood into useable energy. But many people live with diabetes without even know they’ve got it, because the symptoms tend to develop very slowly.
Around five million people in the UK have diabetes, with most of them diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
It’s essential that if you think you have diabetes, you speak to a doctor as soon as possible, as the condition raises the risk of some deadly complications.
But it’s not always easy to know if you have diabetes, because the symptoms can easily be missed.
Your dentist may be one of the first people to spot your high blood sugar, however.
Dentists always look out for any unusual smells coming from your teeth or gums, according to Bupa Dental Care’s Head of Clinical Operations, Stephen Barter.
The sweet smell of pear drops in your mouth may be a sign of diabetes, added the specialist in oral surgery.
If the dentist notices the sweet scent when carrying out a regular check-up, they may suggest you speak to a doctor.
They’ll also look out for any gum disease that doesn’t improve over time, as diabetes could also lead to having infections that take longer to heal.
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“When visiting the dentist for a regular check-up they can spot health conditions beyond the state of your teeth and gums,” Barter told Express.co.uk, ahead of World Oral Health Day, on Saturday March 20.
“What most people don’t know is that by using some of the senses – sight, sound and smell – dentists are in prime position to spot health conditions and diseases in the rest of the body, and can inform patients before they would naturally have an opportunity to raise them with their doctor.
“Dentists are trained to identify odour coming from the teeth and gums.
“Certain smells mean different things; like the smell of pear drops is often indicative of uncontrolled diabetes and is something patients will need to see their doctor about.
“One of the effects of diabetes is a reduced ability for the body to heal and an associated increase risk of infection.
“The dentist will, therefore, be closely monitoring the advancement of gum disease.”
It’s absolutely crucial that everyone is open and honest about their wider health concerns when speaking to a dentist, he added.
Combined with lifestyle factors, gum disease has also been linked to a number of other medical conditions, including heart disease.
Meanwhile, other common diabetes symptoms include feeling unusually tired or fatigue, and passing more urine than normal.
Patients have also reported feeling excessively thirsty, having a persistent hunger, and even blurred vision.
Speak to a doctor if you’re worried about the warning signs of diabetes.
Diagnosing the condition as soon as possible is crucial, because it can lead to unwanted complications if left untreated, including strokes.
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