If you have diabetes, your doctor has probably talked to you about the risks associated with periodontal disease.
It is now widely accepted in the medical community that diabetes and periodontal disease have a two-way relationship–diabetics are more likely to get periodontal disease and people with periodontal disease are more likely to get diabetes OR to experience increased difficulty controlling preexisting diabetes.
Understanding the relationship between these two diseases can help you take better care of your overall health.
What Is Periodontal Disease and How Is It Related to Diabetes?
Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is a common infection of the gums that can lead to bone loss in the jaw and teeth. It is estimated that one-half of the U.S. populate of 30 years old and older has periodontal disease, including 60% of 60 year-olds. Severe periodontal disease affects 10-15% of adults.
Periodontal disease starts as plaque that worsens and progresses beneath the gum line, causing inflammation of the gums. It is speculated that the bacteria in gums infected and inflamed by severe periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and cause a reaction in the body, including the increase of blood sugar levels, although the link is not completely understood. Diabetics understand the implications of increased blood sugar levels for complicating their disease. The combination of diabetes and severe periodontal disease is dangerous for your health.
Diabetics with severe periodontal disease have an increased risk for:
- Severe kidney diseases, as much as threefold
- Kidney disease and heart disease together, as much as threefold
- Heart attack and stroke
- Eye issues that can lead to blindness
Generally speaking, periodontal disease makes controlling diabetes and taking care of your overall health much more difficult.
On the other hand, diabetics are at a higher risk for periodontal disease, making it a compounding problem. Susceptibility to periodontal disease is increased by approximately threefold in people with diabetes, according to the National Institutes for Health. In addition, people who are not diabetic have a higher risk of having higher long-term blood sugar levels and developing diabetes if they have severe periodontal disease.
For these reasons, the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease have become a part of diabetic management. Doctors recommend that everyone, especially diabetes patients, follow best practices for oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist once every six months. They recommend that you ask your dentist to check your gums for periodontal disease. Proper treatment of periodontal disease can drop blood sugar levels, reducing HbA1c counts by as much as 0.4%.
When was your last dentist appointment? Dr. Mandanas is an Anchorage holistic dentist who has been studying the connection between the mouth and the body for years. She understands the link between diabetes and periodontal disease and she can have an informed discussion about your questions and concerns with you. She would be happy to know that you are proactive about educating yourself and taking care of your overall health.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas today!