You may have heard or read that Type 2 Diabetes puts you at greater risk for gum (periodontal) disease, but do you also know just how dental problems affect your blood sugar? Here’s how it works…
Periodontitis is a common chronic inflammatory disease characterized by destruction of the structures which support your teeth.
- When you reach this stage, your gums begin to pull away from your teeth.
- Pockets form between your teeth and gums. These fill with germs and pus and deepen.
- If this happens, you may need gum surgery to save your teeth.
- If nothing is done, the infection goes on to destroy the bone around your teeth.
- The teeth may start to move or get loose.
- Your teeth may fall out or need to be pulled.
Diabetics are three times more susceptible to periodontitis because the Diabetes lowers the immune system response, leaving them with a decreased ability to fight the infection.
On the flip side, however, the evidence is growing that there is a two-way relationship between diabetes and periodontitis.
Diabetes increases the risk for periodontitis, and periodontal inflammation negatively affects blood sugar control, contributing to the progression of diabetes.
➡ Too much glucose (blood sugar) can cause pain, infection, and other dental problems because bacteria loves sugar and your blood glucose allows the harmful bacteria to grow in your saliva.
Other dental complications related to uncontrolled diabetes include thrush (an oral fungus) and dry mouth, which can lead to the formation of sores and ulcers in the mouth.
➡ Additional lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and diet have been linked to the risk of gum disease.
➡ One of the first studies to show an effect of obesity on periodontitis identified that obese rats with periodontitis had more bone loss compared with non-obese rats
➡ Obesity predisposes people to a variety of complications, and a number of studies have reported associations between obesity and periodontitis.
But what to do about it? Some simple routines can help:
• Brush your teeth at least twice daily.
• Floss once a day, pressing the floss against your teeth and not your gums.
• Check for areas where your gums are red or painful.
• See your dentist right away if you think you have a problem.
If you’re having dental work, be sure to remind the hygienist and dentist that you have diabetes.
- Many dental treatments can affect your blood sugar and your dentist may decide to delay some procedures — including dental surgery.
- If your blood-glucose levels are higher than your target range it increases your risk of getting a serious infection after surgery
The importance of this relationship between Diabetes and gum disease cannot be overstated. Your first two lines of defense are maintaining good oral health and careful monitoring of your blood sugar levels.
And, as research continues to show us, with just about every medical condition we could discuss, a healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are the keys.