Did you know that trouble keeping your blood sugar at the proper level can lead to infection in your gums? It’s true, people suffering from diabetes have a higher rate of gum or periodontal disease than those without diabetes.
In this post, Cardiff Dental will explore the link between diabetes and periodontal disease. We will look at what it is, the prevention and treatment options available, and some other oral problems that are also linked to diabetes.
How does it happen?
Just as high blood glucose makes it easier for you to get an infection in general, high blood glucose levels also make it easier to get a gum or mouth infection. Decaying teeth and poor oral habits contribute to periodontal disease, as does smoking.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum and underlying bone that holds your teeth in place. When periodontal disease is untreated, it can lead to worsening blood glucose control. Worse, this sets up a feedback loop in which periodontal disease leads to diabetes, and diabetes leads to periodontal disease. Chewing can also become painful, and loss of teeth may occur.
Why is it that people with diabetes are prone to getting periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is like any other complication of diabetes in that it is linked to how well you are in control of your blood glucose.
Not only do people with poor diabetes control get more gum disease than their peers, but they also lose more teeth. If your diabetes is well under control, you have about the same risk of periodontal disease as do those without diabetes. Diabetes itself is not the problem, instead it is uncontrolled high blood glucose. So managing that is the key to everything.
Causes of periodontal disease in diabetics
Thickening of blood vessels promotes periodontal disease.
In diabetes, blood vessels that deliver oxygen to various parts of the body thicken, slowing nutrient and waste transport to tissues, including those in the mouth. This weakens gum and bone resistance to infection, and it becomes easier for periodontal disease to set in.
Bacteria grows freely in the mouths of people with poorly controlled blood glucose. This contributes to bacteria getting into the gum and bone, which sets the stage for periodontal disease.
For smokers, the news is even worse. Nicotine takes the place of oxygen in the blood stream to all tissues, including gum and bone in the mouth. Smoking gives you added circulation issues on top of the ones that you already have with diabetes. Smokers are as much as 5 times more likely than nonsmokers to have gum disease.
Dental tips for diabetes and periodontal disease prevention
The following are some tips that people with diabetes should follow in order to prevent periodontal disease
- Keep your blood glucose in the target range your doctor sets
- See your dentist for regular six month check-ups and cleanings
- Make sure that your dentist is aware you have diabetes, and let him or her know your recent diabetes numbers
- Brush teeth at using gentle circular motions at least twice daily with a soft bristle tooth brush
- Floss daily using a long piece of dental floss, working your floss along the gum line and up each tooth, and rinse well following flossing
- Drink fluoridated water, or use a fluoride rinse to prevent tooth decay
- Use an anti-plaque mouth rinse to help prevent plaque build up
- Use a dental pick or brush to get between the teeth better than a toothbrush can
- Keep dentures clean, and remove them at night and get adjusted if they don’t fit right
Other common mouth problems from diabetes include:
- Thrush. Thrush is a fungus of the oral cavity, or mouth.
- Oral burning. If blood glucose levels are not controlled, they can lead to “oral burning”. A bitter taste may accompany the burning sensation, along with dry mouth..
See your Cardiff Dental dentist!
Seeing us every 6 months, for routine check-ups, needed X-rays, and cleanings is very important. Your dentist should know that you have diabetes, and should know what medications you are taking.
It’s best to take keep a close eye on your dental health, since worsening gum disease causes diabetes to get worse, and worsening diabetes causes problems with healing of infections related to gum disease.
The American Academy of Periodontal Disease considers periodontal disease to be the “sixth complication of diabetes.”
Periodontal disease and diabetes both cause inflammatory responses all over the body, which is why one can make the other worse, and vice versa. Diabetes and periodontal disease are a “two-way street,” with one affecting the other.
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