While the reasons why aren’t fully understood, it’s becoming more apparent that gum disease and diabetes have a relationship, and it’s one that works both ways. If you have gum disease, you’re more likely to develop diabetes, and if you have diabetes, you’re at greater risk of getting gum disease.
Periodontal disease, the medical name for gum disease, has long been considered a complication of diabetes. People with diabetes tend to be more prone to infections due to changes in their immune systems that result from high blood sugar.
There’s also emerging evidence that periodontal disease may make it harder for some people to control blood sugar. Severe gum disease can, itself, raise blood sugar levels. The more time you spend with high glucose levels, the more likely you are to suffer diabetic complications, as these levels take a toll on many systems in your body.
The most common types of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis, and they can be thought of as mild and advanced, respectively. Gingivitis is an inflammation of gum tissue around the teeth, at the point where tooth and bone meet. Your gums will be visibly red, rather than pink, and they will bleed easily when you brush your teeth.
Periodontitis describes inflammation that progresses into the teeth and bones. Pockets form between tooth and gum, providing a collection point for bacteria that drive the inflammatory actions causing tooth and bone loss.
While gingivitis doesn’t always progress into periodontitis, it’s sometimes challenging to recognize periodontitis in its early stages, since there’s no accompanying pain.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body can’t manufacture the hormone insulin, which signals muscle cells to accept blood glucose, the fuel that drives muscle action. Without insulin injections, levels of glucose remain high, causing damage throughout your body.
Type 2 diabetes is more common, and though your body continues to make insulin, cells become resistant to the insulin message, causing an accumulation of blood glucose. Lifestyle changes and medications can help control blood sugar in the early stages, but it’s possible for a type 2 diabetic to progress to the point where they need insulin injections as well, to bolster the body’s supply.
Regular dental visits are the best way to monitor and prevent periodontal diseases, when combined with effective oral hygiene at home. Even with the best brushing and flossing practices, dental cleanings keep you ahead of the buildup of plaque and tartar, which are the substances that create below-the-surface activity that leads to gum disease.
If you’re already diabetic, then you likely have a medical management team to help you monitor and control the potential complications that can result. Adding Dr. Mehrnoosh Darj and her team of dental professionals to your diabetes management is an excellent choice, even if you haven’t developed gum disease. With regular visits, there’s a good chance you can avoid this complication of diabetes altogether, particularly if your blood sugar is now under control.
Call the office directly or request an appointment online, using the handy booking tool. Staying on top of your oral hygiene is an all-around healthy choice. Contact Dr. Darj today.