Diabetes and Gum Disease Connection

Your Dentist in Lincoln, NE Explains How Diabetes and Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease) are connected

Diabetes is known as a systemic disease. Systemic means that it affects the whole body, not just one area. Since our body is one working unit, what goes into our mouth can affect the entire body and vice versa. Something systemic that happens in other areas, can indeed affect the mouth. Diabetes may be something that a person is genetically predisposed to or it may be something that develops as a result of lifestyle. Without a doubt, it has many diverse complications and can be extremely difficult to control. So, is there a connection between diabetes and oral health or diabetes and gum disease? Your dentist in Lincoln, NE has all the answers.

bright smiling young man on Diabetes and Gum disease

What are different types of diabetes? Do all forms of diabetes lead to dental problems? Your dentist in Lincoln, NE answers…

It should be noted that there are many types of diabetes. Most commonly, we know of two; Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes means that a person is insulin dependent and Type 2 means that a person may be able  to control the effects of diabetes with diet and exercise. Thus, possibly even reversing it. Although there is much known about diabetes, many still ask about the diabetes and gum disease connection.

In addition, there are also other types of diabetes such as the type that can affect expectant mothers occurring during pregnancy. This specific type of diabetes is known as gestational diabetes. A person can also be considered “pre-diabetic.” In this case a person will present with slightly elevated blood sugar. If steps are not taken to bring the blood sugars down to an acceptable level, a person will progress and become diabetic.

In general, all forms of diabetes are connected closely to dental health. That means, there may be indeed be a link between diabetes and gum disease. Subsequently, patients with any form of diabetes tend to have a higher risk for developing cavities, dry mouth, and gum disease.

smiling mature woman lincoln ne on Diabetes and Gum disease

So, why does being diabetic or pre-diabetic affect what happens with my teeth? Are diabetes and gum disease connected? Your dentist in Lincoln, NE answers…

When you have diabetes, whether insulin resistant or a deficiency in insulin secretion, there is the inability to transport glucose, which then remains within the bloodstream leading to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). This can then lead to diabetic complications. Above all, the most common complications with which we are familiar include neuropathy (weakness, numbness, pain) and delayed wound healing. Many times, diabetics can experience non-healing wounds, especially on their feet where a person who has neuropathy may never even know they bumped their toe. Also, another complication that is experienced by diabetics is periodontitis, which is inflammation within the tissue surrounding the teeth. Periodontitis can then develop into Periodontal Disease, which is the sixth complication of diabetes. Once Periodontal Disease has set in, a person now has a chronic bacterial infection that will affect the teeth and bone (within the mouth). Certain microorganisms, in particular those that are gram-negative, are in the bacterial plaque and begin adhering to the teeth. Many times, Periodontal Disease is silent and can be present without being noticed up until a person is experiencing tooth mobility (loose teeth) or even worse, tooth loss.

Certainly things that a person with periodontitis might experience are bleeding when brushing or flossing, and possibly even increased sensitivity or pain. If a diabetic develops periodontitis, it is very important to seek treatment to help prevention and progression. Further, it is known that a person who has poorly controlled diabetes, is more likely to develop Periodontal Disease over a person who has diabetes, but controls it either with diet and insulin or insulin alone. As diabetes and periodontitis progress together affecting the mouth, it can eventually lead to a loss in social confidence as well as a loss in self-esteem. Eventually, this could possibly lead to poor lifestyle choices.

In a recent study it was determined that there was a definite correlation between Type 2 diabetes and periodontitis. People who presented with Type 2 diabetes and underwent periodontal treatment, showed a decrease in a certain serum (which included inflammatory cytokins).  Overall, once they completed periodontal treatment the inflammation decreased the result was an improvement in glycemic control. Ultimately, the end result, a healthier body with reduced inflammation.

your dentist in Lincoln, NE smiling

Now that you know there is a correlation between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes, what can you do to help keep both the mouth and diabetes in check? Your dentist in Lincoln, NE answers…

In short, the bottom line is that if you have diabetes, Type 1, Type 2, gestational diabetes, or even if you are pre-diabetic, take care of yourself! Make healthy lifestyle choices and doing all of the right things will help your overall health and inflammation. You’ll feel good about yourself too, knowing you’ve made good choices. That right there is an easy confidence booster.

The following lifestyle choices can decrease the risk of developing periodontal disease and can help keep it in remission in patients who already have it.

  • Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the kinds found in fatty fish (herring, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna,) or fish oil, and flaxseed.
  • Avoiding eating processed foods.
  • Avoiding eating foods with added sugars, such as fructose. Stopping drinking soda or energy drinks.
  • Taking probiotics with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria. Taking Vitamin C and D daily.
  • Eliminating foods such as dairy or foods that contain gluten that may be causing sensitivity to as allergies potentially create inflammation in the gut.
  • Exercising regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Practicing deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, as stress worsens the immune response.
  • Sleeping at least 7 – 8 hours each night.

This article was written by your dentist in Lincoln, NE, Dr. Kim Polley. Dr. Polley is one of the many compassionate dentists that can be found at Nebraska Family Dentistry. Dr. Polley is well versed in all the latest that dentistry has to offer. If you would like to see what Dr. Polley can do for you, call or stop by the North location of Nebraska Family Dentistry, Northstar Dental. Dr. Polley would love to meet you!

Diabetes and Gum disease infographic by your dentist in Lincoln, NE

Check out this infographic on this topic:
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