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.
Diabetes Increases Chances of 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 cell function, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infection. Uncontrolled diabetes greatly increases the risk of moderate to severe periodontal disease. Those who have diabetes will often experience dry mouth, gum inflammation, and poor healing of 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 cell function, 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.
Additionally, the damage that periodontal disease can do is far greater in a diabetic patient than one without diabetes. Healing in diabetics is impaired, allowing the periodontal disease to cause far more destruction at a faster rate.
Diabetes and Periodontal Disease, A Two Way Street
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 the 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 large study, published in the Journal of Periodontology (1997), found that when the study population’s periodontal infections were treated, the management of their diabetes markedly improved!
Treatment of Periodontal Disease in the Diabetic
If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment today to learn if you have periodontal disease. 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!
To learn more about Periodontal Disease and Diabetes, click on the links below to view articles published by the American Academy of Periodontology.