It is overall reported that individuals who experience the ill effects of diabetes are more suceptible to infections diseases than non-diababetics. What is still generally unknown is that periodontal disease is frequently viewed as a major complication for diabetics; especially when the diabetes is not under control.
Periodontal disease, often called periodontitis and gum disease, is an advanced condition that can quickly lead to tooth loss if not recognized and treated promptly. Periodontal disease begins when a bacterial infection of the gingival tissue surrounds the teeth. As the bacteria begins to colonize, the gum pockets become deeper and the gums recede as tissue is destroyed.
Diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels become hard to control and is a serious condition which can lead to heart disease and stroke.. Type II diabetics are unable to regulate insulin levels, which means excess glucose stays in the blood stream for prolonged periods of time. Whereas Type I diabetics do not produce any insulin at all.
The Relationship between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease:
Here are ways in which diabetes and periodontal disease are linked:
Increased blood sugar – Moderate and severe periodontal disease can raise blood glucose levels in the body, the longer blood glucose is elevated, the longer the body has to operate under these adverse conditions. Diabetics with periodontitis have difficulty keeping their blood sugar under control for this reason. Additionally, the elevated sugar content of the diabetic mouth provides ample food for the very bacteria that worsen periodontal infections.
Blood vessel thickening – The thickening of the blood vessels is a major concerns for diabetics. Blood vessels are vital to delivering nutrients and removing waste products to and from tissue. With diabetes, the blood vessels become too thick for these exchanges to occur, and harmful waste is left in the mouth. This waste can weaken the resistance of gum tissue, which can lead to an increased risk of infection and gum disease.
Smoking – Tobacco usage can be devastating to the oral cavity. Not only does tobacco use slow the healing process, it also significantly increases the chances of developing periodontal disease. Diabetics who smoke have a greater risk of developing infections, and, diabetic smokers over the age of forty-five are twenty times more likely to develop periodontal disease in their lifetime.
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 gum line. This exacerbates the metabolic problems that diabetes sufferers experience.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Patients who are diagnosed with any type of diabetes are encouraged to see the dentist at least twice yearly for checkups and professional cleanings. This is a significant step in the prevention of periodontal disease. Statistics show that simple, non-surgical, periodontal treatments, include deep scaling, and root planning, where tartar will be removed from the teeth above and below the gumline, can lower the HbA1c count of a diabetic by as much as 20% 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 and determine the exact condition of the gums, teeth and underlying jawbone. If necessary the dentist will work in conjunction the diabetic’s primary care provider to ensure that both the diabetes, and the gum disease, are being managed and controlled as effectively as possible. Diabetics many be prescribed a topical antibiotic that is applied to gum pockets to promote healing.
Before and after periodontal treatment, the dentist and hygienist will recommend proper home care and oral maintenance as well as prescribing prescription mouthwashes which serve to deter further bacteria colonization.
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