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The Connection Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Posted on 1/3/2020 by Stephanie Day
The link between diabetes and periodontal disease is, unfortunately, a double-edged sword. Studies show that those with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing periodontal disease (gum disease) and at the same time, periodontal disease can make it tougher for a diabetes patient to control their blood sugar. 

Why Does Diabetes Increase the Risk for Periodontal Disease?

A patient with diabetes is already more susceptible to infections in general as high glucose levels make it easier for bacteria to flourish; especially in the mouth. Germs from plaque tend to thrive in this type of environment and can quickly lead to gingivitis which is the first stage of gum disease.

Blood vessels can also play a role in an increased risk for gum disease in diabetic patients. Blood vessels deliver nutrients and oxygen to the mouth while also carrying away harmful tissue waste from the mouth. Diabetes can cause a person’s blood vessels to thicken, which makes it difficult for the blood vessels to carry away harmful waste. This can result in the weakening of gum tissue as well as increase the chance of bone infection.

Once the gum tissue becomes weakened it can start to recede and pull away from the teeth. This allows for bacteria and infection to collect in deep pockets which are impossible to reach with standard brushing at home.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease or gum disease is no joke. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is not reversible. Once you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dental team will introduce a treatment plan designed specifically to maintain the structure of your teeth and keep your gums from worsening. This plan will typically include four periodontal therapy sessions each year by an experienced hygienist to remove plaque buildup and harmful bacteria from deep within the gum pockets. Continued success of periodontal therapy relies on diligent brushing and flossing by the patient in between therapy sessions.

In bad cases of periodontal disease, the patient may have to consider surgical treatment and teeth replacement options if the teeth cannot be saved.

How can you protect your oral health if you have diabetes?

The link between diabetes and gum disease is all about diabetic control. A diabetic person who is in good control of regulating their blood sugar levels will be able to level out that higher increase and return their chances to those of a person without diabetes.

For patients with diabetes we recommend the following:
• Regular cleaning appointments at least every six months with your hygienist.

• Talk with your Dentist and Doctor about how to best control your diabetes and any medications that may potentially interfere with treatment or oral surgery.

• Commitment to brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.

For diabetic patients with periodontal or gum disease we recommend the following:
• Four periodontal therapy sessions each year with an experienced hygienist.

• A commitment to brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.

• Following your periodontal treatment plan recommended by your dental team.

• Closely monitoring blood glucose level and maintaining control over your diabetes to avoid worsening gum disease and any other potential infections.

Concerned about your risk of periodontal or gum disease?

Our dental team led by Dr. Bryan Hill will be able to determine whether or not you have any signs of periodontal disease during a comprehensive exam. Prevention is key! Call us to schedule a comprehensive exam with Dr. Hill today!
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Smile More Spokane Family Dentistry maintains a dental blog to help educate and inform our patients about topics that affect their oral health.
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