People who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections than non-diabetes sufferers. It is not widely known that periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes, particularly when the diabetes is not under proper control.
Periodontal disease (often called periodontitis and gum disease) is a progressive condition that often leads to tooth loss without prompt treatment. Periodontal disease begins with a bacterial infection in the gingival tissue which surrounds the teeth. As the bacteria colonize, the gum pockets become deeper. Then, the gums recede as tissue is destroyed. Eventually, the periodontitis attacks the underlying bone tissue.
Diabetes is characterized by too much glucose (or sugar) in the blood. Type II diabetics are unable to regulate insulin levels which means excess glucose stays in the blood. Type I diabetics do not produce any insulin at all. Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Reasons for the Connection
Experts suggest the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease can worsen both conditions if either condition is not properly controlled.
Here are ways in which diabetes and periodontal disease are linked:
Increased blood sugar
Moderate and severe periodontal disease elevates sugar levels in the body. This increases the amount of time the body has to function with high blood sugar. This is why diabetics with periodontitis have difficulty keeping control of their blood sugar. In addition, the higher sugar levels found in the mouth of diabetics provide food for the very bacteria that worsen periodontal infections.
Blood vessel thickening
The thickening of the blood vessels is one of the other major concerns for diabetes sufferers. The blood vessels normally serve a vital function for tissues by delivering nutrients and removing waste products. With diabetes, the blood vessels become too thick for these exchanges to occur. This means that harmful waste remains in the mouth and can weaken the resistance of gum tissue, which can lead to infection and gum disease.
Tobacco use does a great deal of damage in the oral region. Not only does tobacco use slow the healing process, it also vastly increases the chances of an individual developing periodontal disease. For diabetics who smoke, the risk is exponentially greater. In fact, diabetic smokers ages 45 and over are 20 times more likely to develop periodontal disease.
Poor oral hygiene
It is essential for diabetics to maintain excellent levels of oral health. When daily brushing and flossing does not occur, the harmful oral bacteria can ingest the excess sugar between the teeth and colonize more freely below the gumline. This exacerbates the metabolic problems that diabetes sufferers experience.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is crucial for people suffering from any type of diabetes to see the dentist at least twice yearly for checkups and professional cleanings. Studies have shown that simple non-surgical periodontal treatments can lower the HbA1c (hemoglobin molecule blood test) count by as much as 20 percent in a six-month period.
The dentist will use medical history, family history and dental X-rays to assess the risk factors for periodontal disease. He or she also will determine the exact condition of the gums, teeth, and underlying jawbone. If necessary, the dentist will work in conjunction with other doctors to treat both the diabetes and the gum disease as effectively as possible.
Non-surgical procedures include deep scaling, the removal of calculus (tartar) from the teeth above and below the gumline, and root planing, when a dental professional smooths down the root of the tooth to eliminate any remaining bacteria. He or she can apply antibiotics to the gum pockets to promote healing.
Before and after periodontal treatment, the dentist and hygienist will recommend proper home care and oral maintenance. They also will prescribe mouthwashes that serve to deter further bacteria colonization.
Get Treatment From a Dentist in Scarborough, Ontario
If you are concerned that you have gum disease, it’s critical to seek treatment from a dentist in Scarborough, Ontario. Your dentist will assess your teeth and gums, and if necessary, create a treatment plan for you.
Also, the dentist in Scarborough, Ontario, will teach you how to take better care of your teeth at home. While there is not a cure for gum disease, proper in-office and at-home care will prevent the condition from getting worse.
If you have questions or concerns about diabetes or periodontal disease, please contact our office.