The relationship between Diabetes and Gum Disease, known as “Periodontitis,” was dismissed as coincidental for a long time, but that has changed.
Periodontitis is a serious gum infection caused by bacteria that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. It can cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss.
Left untreated it can progress to receding gums, bone loss and gum tissue deterioration.
A recent study to determine the relationship between Diabetes and gum disease was led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. The results have pinpointed oral microbiome as the link between these two conditions.
➡ A “microbiome” protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins.
The study showed that Diabetes prompts changes in the oral microbiota that increase the likelihood of bone loss and inflammation, two characteristics of Periodontitis.
To prove the relationship between Diabetes and gum disease, the researchers began by comparing the oral microbiota of diabetic mice with those of healthy mice.
Both groups of mice had similar oral microbiota, though this changed once the diabetic mice became hyperglycemic (developed elevated blood sugar levels).
➡ The oral microbiota of the diabetic mice became increasingly limited and infectious, so much so that the mice eventually acquired Periodontitis.
➡ The researchers noted that the diabetic mice experienced a loss of bone that affected the teeth and raised levels of the molecule interleukin– (having too much of this molecule has also been linked to Periodontitis.
After several other detailed tests were conducted, the researchers added that in addition to showing the relationship between Diabetes and gum disease, their study emphasized the importance of blood sugar control and good oral hygiene for diabetic patients.
• Certain diseases, such as Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Crohn’s Disease
• Poor oral health habits
• Smoking or chewing tobacco
• Older age
• Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy or menopause
• Substance abuse
• Inadequate nutrition, including vitamin C deficiency
• Certain medications that cause dry mouth or gum changes
• Conditions that cause decreased immunity, such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS, and cancer treatment
• Swollen or puffy gums
• Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
• Gums that feel tender when touched
• Gums that bleed easily
• Gums that pull away from your teeth (recede), making your teeth look longer than normal
• New spaces developing in between your teeth
• Pus between your teeth and gums
• Bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Painful chewing
• A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
How to maintain good oral health
The key to healthy teeth and gums is regularly removing the harmful bacteria and plaque. To prevent these from accumulating in the mouth, follow these recommendations:
➡ Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day
➡ If possible, brush after meals to remove any food debris and plaque trapped between the gums and teeth
➡ Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco, since these can boost the risk of gum disease