Diabetes & Oral Health

Periodontal disease can affect your diabetes and body.Diabetes is a group of chronic inflammatory diseases that affect the body's ability to process sugar. If you have diabetes, it is particularly important to maintain excellent oral health. That's because diabetics are more prone to oral infections such as periodontal (gum) disease, which can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Conversely, the presence of gum disease can make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.

Periodontal disease is a chronic ailment that is also associated with an elevated level of systemic (whole-body) inflammation. Like diabetes, it may have wide-ranging consequences outside the mouth — possibly increasing a person's chance of experiencing major cardiovascular events (such as heart attack or stroke) or adverse pregnancy outcomes (low birth weight and pre-term delivery). So perhaps it's not surprising that a growing body of evidence suggests the two diseases are related.

Two Diseases With A Lot In Common

It has long been recognized that having diabetes is a risk factor likely to increase the severity of periodontal disease. That's because diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection, making diabetics more susceptible to both bacterial and fungal infections. Likewise, evidence shows that having serious gum disease (periodontitis) is likely to result in worsening blood glucose control in diabetics; it can also increase the risk of diabetic complications. So, what's the connection?

Blood test.While no one is sure at present, the two diseases seem to share some common pathways and disease-causing mechanisms. Both are associated with the process of inflammation and the immune response. Inflammation itself — often signaled by pain, heat and redness — is evidence of the body's immune system at work, attempting to fight disease, repair its effects, and prevent it from spreading. Chronic or prolonged inflammation, however, can lead to serious problems in different parts of the body and a decline in overall health.

What does this mean to you? According to one large study, if you're diabetic, your risk of dying from heart attack is over twice as great if you also have severe periodontitis — and for kidney disease, your risk is 8.5 times higher! Plus, uncontrolled periodontal disease makes it six times more likely that your ability to control blood sugar levels will get worse over time. So not only can having one condition put you at risk for worsening the other — having both can cause a significant deterioration in your overall health.

A Two-Way Street

While diabetes can't be cured, it's possible to manage the disease on a long-term basis. And here's some good news: Clinical studies show that diabetics who get effective treatment for their periodontal disease also receive some significant benefits in their general health. Many exhibit better blood glucose control and improved metabolic functioning after periodontal treatment.

What kinds of treatments might be needed? While much depends on the individual situation, some typical procedures might include: scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning that removes plaque bacteria from teeth, both above and below the gum line); antibiotic therapy; and oral hygiene self-care instruction.

Likewise, if you're at risk for diabetes but haven't yet developed the disease, there are some things you can do to forestall it. While there is a significant genetic component, a major risk factor for diabetes is being overweight — so keeping your weight under control will better your chances of avoiding it. High levels of triglycerides or low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol are also risk factors. These may respond to changes in your diet — like cutting out sugary drinks and eating healthier foods. Also, high blood pressure coupled with an inactive lifestyle puts you at greater risk. Here, moderate exercise can help.

When you come to our office, be sure to let us know if you're being treated for, or are at risk of developing diabetes. And if you are managing the disease, remember that it's more important than ever to maintain good oral health.

Related Articles

Diabetes - Dear Doctor Magazine

Diabetes & Periodontal Disease Diabetes and periodontal disease are chronic inflammatory diseases that impact the health of millions of people. What you may not know is that diabetes and periodontal disease can adversely affect each other... Read Article

Heart and Gum Disease - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases Inflammation has emerged as a factor that is involved in the process of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), which commonly results in heart attacks and strokes. While the precise role inflammation plays in causing chronic CVD remains an area of intense current investigation, much more is now known... Read Article

Cockrell Dental Office

1040 Hillcrest Rd.
Mobile, AL 36695
Phone: (251) 639-0110
Fax: (251) 634-1097
Email: [email protected] 

google
Yelp

Office Hours

Monday - Wednesday:

7:30 am - 5:30 pm

Thursday, Friday:

7:30 am - 12:30 pm

Saturday, Sunday:

Closed

Featured Articles

Read about helpful topics

  • Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

    The new coronavirus epidemic that started in Wuhan, China, in late December is now in dozens of countries, including the United States. Here are answers to key questions about the virus, including how to protect yourself and what to expect. What are the symptoms of coronavirus? According to the CDC, ...

    Read More
  • Coronavirus Myths & Facts

    As Coronavirus Myths Multiply, Experts Sort Fact From Fiction The new coronavirus continues its steady march through the U.S. population, bringing with it a second plague: potentially dangerous myths and rumors about COVID-19, spread via the internet. You may have already heard some of these coronavirus ...

    Read More
  • How Long Does the Coronavirus Live on Surfaces?

    The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person. When someone who is infected coughs or sneezes, they send droplets containing the virus into the air. A healthy person can then breathe in those droplets. You can also catch the virus if you touch a surface or object that has ...

    Read More
  • Avoid Coronavirus Misinformation

    A Doctor's Tips for Spotting Fake COVID-19 News As we all try to stay safe from COVID-19, arming yourself with accurate news information has never been more important – but it’s not always easy. Fake news can be challenging to recognize because there’s often a little truth mixed in with misinformation. ...

    Read More
  • Do I have COVID-19 or a cold?

    Do I have COVID-19 or a cold? If you don't have a fever and your eyes aren't itchy, it's probably the common cold, not COVID-19. Do I have COVID-19 or allergies? It's probably allergies -- not COVID-19 -- if you don't have a fever but your eyes are itchy, you're sneezing, and you have a runny nose. How ...

    Read More
  • Coronavirus: Is It Safe to Get Deliveries?

    With more than 50% of the U.S. population living under stay-at-home restrictions, companies that deliver food and household goods are inundated with orders. As they scramble to meet the demand, you may wonder if ordering in puts you or the people making your deliveries at risk. The Question of Worker ...

    Read More
  • How to Weather Social Isolation

    Social distancing has become the new normal, with one-third of Americans now under stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, but experts say that level of isolation can be hard on your health. "We don't know for sure what the long-term health outcomes of widespread forced social isolation ...

    Read More
  • The Power of Hand-Washing to Prevent Coronavirus

    The single most important piece of advice health experts can give to help us stay safe from COVID-19 is this one: Wash your hands. "In the final analysis, it's the hands. The hands are the connecting piece," says Elizabeth Scott, PhD. Scott co-directs the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community ...

    Read More
  • Calming Your Child's Coronavirus Fears

    Schools are closing. Sports and other activities have been cancelled. Everything is changing. In the midst of this chaos, how do parents keep kids from stressing too much? "For families, this is truly now hitting home," said psychologist Robin Gurwitch, from Duke University and the Center for Child and ...

    Read More
  • Fillings

    Frequently asked questions: dental fillings Are dental amalgams safe? Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam? Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries? Is there a filling material that matches tooth color? If my tooth doesn't hurt and my filling is still in ...

    Read More