In recent years a larger and larger portion of the U.S. population suffers from metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes, insulin resistance and lipid problems. We can attribute part of this to inflammation throughout the body. One of the initiating factors to diabetes can be chronic inflammation which occurs frequently with gum disease. Studies show that over 50% of people have gum disease and this makes you much more likely to have or develop diabetes.
In one study, 82% of diabetic patients with periodontitis experienced one or more major cardiovascular, cerebrovascular or peripheral vascular events during the study period of 1–11 years, compared to only 21% of diabetic subjects without periodontitis. Periodontal diseases are among the most common diseases in humans
If you are diabetic, you may not know it but there’s a very good chance you may already have periodontal “gum” disease. Because these conditions are so closely linked, they tend to work together in a downward spiral of disease. The good news is, if you get periodontal disease treated, it will most likely help lower blood sugar (A1c) and it will be much easier to control diabetes.
Gum disease is caused by parasites and pathogens that get under your gums and multiply causing infection in your mouth and inflammation throughout your entire body. When you eliminate this infection, you reduce overall inflammation and your body responds in a positive way not only in regards to diabetes but also many other systemic diseases, including heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and so many more.
Recent studies show that… Diabetes is unequivocally confirmed as a major risk factor for periodontitis. Diabetics have a higher risk of developing gum disease than people who have healthy blood sugar levels. In fact, the risk of periodontitis is increased by approximately threefold in diabetic people compared to those who are not diabetic. We’ve talked about how periodontal disease increases the risk for diabetes, but did you know… Diabetes also increases the risk for periodontal disease? For someone with diabetes it is harder to shield the body from a bacterial infection and high blood sugar levels make it easier for bacteria to thrive in the mouth. This means that not only does having diabetes make an infection harder to fight, but also having serious gum disease can make diabetes harder to keep in check. The link between diabetes and gum disease becomes even stronger when you look at the possible effect of an oral infection on your blood sugar levels.
What’s happening in the mouth? The germs in plaque cause infection between the teeth and in the gums, leading to gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. The more serious stages of gum disease are periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. If left untreated, this condition can result in destruction of tissue and eventually bone and tooth loss. When you have gum disease, your tissue tends to bleed more easily and this allows a direct point of entry for pathogens to get into your bloodstream and cause inflammation. This inflammation can clearly be seen in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which has also been linked to gum disease.
Taking care of your oral health, whether you have diabetes or not, is much more important than you may think.
Treating periodontal inflammation can lower blood sugar levels (with significant reported HbA1c reductions)
Our patient, Juanita Barnes, is a great success story of someone who treated her gum disease and saw a huge improvement in her diabetes. When she first came to us her A1c was over 14.0! Dr. Nemeth told her that once she completed her LANAP treatment, she could expect her blood sugar levels to be significantly reduced. Once she was through with treatment, her A1c dropped to 8.6 and that was after just two months! She and her internist are thrilled with the results and she is able to control her diabetes much more easily. Ms. Barnes said, “I am just overwhelmed and ecstatic about it…it has never been this low!” She is feeling better than ever.
Controlling diabetes is likely to reduce the risk and severity of periodontitis. Nearly 22% of people with diabetes have periodontal disease and as we age, poor blood sugar control escalates the risk for gum problems. In fact, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar levels. How to lower blood sugar levels If you have type 2 diabetes, keeping your gums healthy can help you control your diabetes. It also may help lower your risk of experiencing problems, such as blindness and kidney disease. While these two conditions may make each other more difficult to manage, there is still a lot that you can do to prevent and control both diabetes and gum disease.
Letting diabetes go uncontrolled
Diabetes patients with poor glycemic control are at greater risk for progression of periodontal destruction over time, and are more likely to have severe periodontitis than those with well controlled diabetes.If your diabetes is left untreated, the repercussions can be major. Here’s how:
- You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to be dry.
- Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re also at a greater risk of cavities.
- Gums may become reddened and often bleed (gingivitis).
- You may have difficulties tasting food.
- You can face slow wound healing.
- You can be vulnerable to infections in your mouth.
- For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.
Have a Diabetes/Dental Health Plan for Yourself Having a team in place is important in keeping your oral health in check. Talk with your dentist about your health and any medications that you may be taking. You, your doctor and dentist/periodontist are your good health squad and working together can give you a healthy smile and may even slow progression of your diabetes. Here are a few other things you can do to improve and keep yourself in peak health:
- Manage your blood sugar levels. Use your diabetes-related medications as directed by your doctor.
- Work toward a healthier diet.
- Exercise (more).
- Lower blood sugar levels to fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth.
- Avoid smoking.
- Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft bristle brush and clean between your teeth daily.
- If you wear any type of denture, clean it each day.
- See your dentist for regular checkups
If you have diabetes (or not!) and have any symptoms of gum disease or are concerned about your oral health, see a periodontist. He/she can not only treat your gum disease but can help control your diabetes and improve your overall health. We care about improving the lives of our patients! If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to see us, please call