Research has come forth that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways – periodontal disease can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. In fact, those who have diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than those who do not, making it vital that diabetics maintain their blood sugar and seek treatment for periodontal disease.
Diabetics, as a result of their increased susceptibility to infection, are at a greater risk of developing periodontal disease then those without diabetes. And, those who do not have their diabetes under control are at an even greater risk for periodontal disease. Uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infection that can occur in the mouth. Allowing diabetes to be left uncontrolled greatly increases a diabetics risk of moderate to severe periodontal disease.Those who have diabetes will often experience dry mouth, gum inflammation, and poor healing in the oral tissues. All of these complications of diabetes can put a patient at greater risk for periodontal disease, but the inflammation of the gums is by far the most threatening. Besides impairing white blood cells, diabetes also causes blood vessels to thicken. Thickened blood vessels slow the flow of nutrients and waste products from the tissues of the mouth. This inflammation greatly reduces the body’s ability to fight infections such as the bacterial infection that causes periodontitis, or gum disease. As a result, diabetics are at a high risk of developing periodontal disease.
Additionally, the damage that periodontal disease can do is far greater in a diabetic patient than one without diabetes. This is because healing in diabetics may be impaired, allowing the periodontal disease to cause far more destruction at a faster rate.
Not only does diabetes affect periodontal disease, periodontal disease has been shown to affect a patients’ diabetes. The relationship is a two way street. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for patients with diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Periodontal disease has been shown to increase blood sugar which contributes to increased periods of time when the body functions with high blood sugar. Bacterial infections, like periodontal disease, can affect the patient’s metabolism making it far more complicated to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. And because periodontal disease is a chronic infection, it has a negative impact on the diabetic’s ability to maintain control of their metabolic status. All of these effects can increase your risk for diabetes complications such as glaucoma, neuropathy, and high blood pressure.
Several studies have found that treating periodontal disease helps diabetics control their blood sugars. One such study of 113 Pima Indians, published in the Journal of Periodontology (1997), found that when the Indian’s periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved!
If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment today to learn if you have periodontal disease. Treatment options for periodontal disease vary and can help you maintain and control your diabetic status. If you are diabetic it is crucial for you to have healthy gums. Healthy gums will make it easier for you to control your blood sugar levels ultimately saving you time, effort, and money!