Making the Connection Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease
There appears to be a connection between diabetes and periodontal disease. Diabetes is a long-lasting disease that one has for a lifetime due to high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. Diabetes is typically associated with too little insulin or a resistance to insulin. Insulin is particular hormone that the pancreas creates to control glucose levels in the body. Diabetes affects an estimated 20 million Americans. More than 9% of the American population has diabetes and may not know it. Periodontal disease is the scientific name noted for gum disease. There are currently two forms of periodontal disease: gingivitis, which is a mild form and periodontis, in which the bone that holds the tooth in place begins to be destroyed over a particular period of time. Healthy gums are pink and firm and don’t typically bleed when one brushes their teeth. If bleeding starts when one begins to brush their teeth, they may have gingivitis or the more serious form of gum disease, periodontis. Periodontis exists due to accumulated plaque (usually over many years) that has been left on the teeth or the gums. So what does periodontal disease have to do with diabetes?
Researchers have noted that people with diabetes have an increased chance of also having periodontal disease. There is not a well-known reason as to why this is the case, however scientists believe that it is due to the immune system of the individual: disproportionate lipid tissue that often happens in diabetics who are obese, capillary destruction over time, and impaired healing of wounds in a diabetic. Most of the evidence suggests that diabetes increases the risk of developing periodontis. Like gingivitis, the risk of periodontis may be greater in patients who have poor blood sugar control. In a survey performed by the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination, adults stated that adults with diabetes had an almost threefold amplified risk of having periodontis compares to those adults who did not have diabetes.
Deprived blood sugar control in patients then allows for a progressive loss of periodontal connection thus increasing the likelihood of a connection between the two diseases. While there is no definitive reason that links periodontal disease with diabetes, researchers believe that a connection exists. So how does a diabetic with periodontal disease get treated? As with all diseases, prevention is always a better alternative than a cure, and periodontal disease can usually be prevented with adequate maintenance of the mouth. Brushing one’s teeth twice a day, or even between meals is recommended continually by dentists and doctors alike. Brushing gums and the tongue is also suggested. Finding the right toothbrush is important as well in order to allow for gentle brushing that is effective at the same time. Many dentists recommend an electric toothbrush over a manual one, and these are especially helpful for diabetics who may have restricted movement of some form. Floss is also suggested as it can sometimes get in between places of the teeth and gums that a normal or electronic toothbrush cannot.
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