According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. With this type of danger in mind, it is also important to understand the connection between oral health and diabetes.
Is There a Connection Between Gum Disease and Diabetes?
Nearly 30 million Americans struggle with diabetes, a metabolic condition in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood. There is a convincing body of research that has shown there is an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes, adding serious gum disease to the list of other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
This severe form of gum disease is known as periodontitis, a stage of gum disease during which your gums begin to pull away from your teeth, causing pockets to form between your teeth and gums. These areas then fill with germs and pus, even as they deepen. If this happens to you, you may need gum surgery to treat the infection and save your teeth. If you do nothing, the infection will continue to grow, eventually destroying the bone around your teeth. Your teeth may begin to move or become loose. Finally, your teeth may fall out or need to be pulled.
Which Causes Which – Infection & Diabetes or Diabetes & Infection
More recent research suggests that the relationship between periodontitis and diabetes goes both ways. In other words, not only does diabetes make you more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may also affect your body’s ability to control blood glucose, contributing to the progression of diabetes. While further study of the connection between periodontitis and diabetes is necessary, the Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health states that good oral health is integral to general health.
The research is fairly conclusive that people with diabetes are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
If your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control.
Preventing Dental Problems Associated with Diabetes
Control your blood glucose level. Take good care of your teeth and gums. Get regular checkups every six months. People with diabetes have special needs when it comes to maintaining good oral health, and your dentist and hygienist are equipped to meet those needs. Make sure you keep them informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control.
The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implants and Prosthetic Dentistry, are your full-service Littleton dental implants specialist and are experts in all types of tooth replacement therapy. If you would like more information on your family’s dental needs, make an appointment today.