Diabetes is an unfortunately common American disease. Scientific American states that more than twenty million Americans have diabetes and more are diagnosed every day. Many of our Placerville dental patients are diabetics and the Placerville Dental Group wants you to know that there is another dangerous dental side effect to diabetes. In the 1980’s, scientists realized that diabetics experience periodontal disease and tooth decay at levels far beyond their fellow Americans. Why does this happen and what should our dental clients do about the problem?
The Gum Disease and Diabetes Connection
In diabetes, the body produces little to no insulin due to a genetic disorder (Type 1 diabetes) or it does not make enough insulin due to other factors, such as obesity (Type 2 diabetes). Insulin causes sugar in your blood stream to be transferred to your body cells. Absent insulin, blood sugar levels rise to dangerous levels, which affects your health negatively. Diabetics monitoring their blood sugar adjust it by injecting or taking insulin or other prescription drugs.
Dental studies have demonstrated that diabetes approximately doubles the risk of gum disease (bacterial infection of the gums). Studies also suggest that gum disease complicates blood sugar control. Therefore, diabetes leads to gum disease and gum disease leads to worsening diabetes. What a terrible cycle! Curing your gum disease, however, can stop the cycle.
Dentists, doctors and scientists believe that inflammatory molecules produced by the immune system when under bacterial attack cause the problems with glycemic control in diabetes. These molecules are called cytokines. Therefore, addressing your periodontitis, and any other infections, can lead to improvements in the complications related to diabetes.
Arresting the Cycle
Maintaining good oral health is the first step to stopping the cycle of gum disease and diabetes. It is extremely important for diabetic patients to schedule regular visits for dental exams and cleanings. Preventing periodontal disease is easier than treating it!
Second, if you already have gum disease, it will likely require antibiotic treatment to improve your blood sugar control. New methods of administration, such as Perio Protect mouth trays, make such prescription treatments more effective than ever.
Finally, diabetics especially need to remember to brush their teeth after every meal and floss the teeth daily. A mechanical toothbrush is beneficial for “lazy” toothbrush users. Also, pay attention to our recommendations regarding continuous snacking and the drinking of sugary drinks during the day, as these habits feed more than your stomach — they also feed the hordes of bacteria that live in your mouth and cause dental decay.
At the first signs of periodontal disease (typically red, swelling or bleeding gums), it is important for all of our Placerville dental patients, not just diabetics, to schedule a visit with our office immediately! Ignoring gum disease leads to more than tooth decay and sickness. Periodontitis does not go away by itself or with home remedies. Visit your Placerville dentist and take steps to prevent gum disease as a part of your overall health routine!