Diabetes and Periodontal Disease: The Link

One of the most interesting relationships in the oral systemic connection is the newly emerging two-way relationship between periodontal disease (periodontitis) and diabetes.

How your Oral Health plays a role in your overall health

For years it’s been apparent that diabetes exacerbates periodontal disease. What’s relatively new is the belief that periodontal disease may have an influence on diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by insulin resistance or lack of secretion. Diabetics suffer from higher than normal blood sugar levels called hyperglycemia. Over time, this condition can cause permanent damage to the eyes, kidneys, blood vessels and nervous system.

Did you know?

  • Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer and AIDS combined.
  • Approximately 1 million people die from cardiovascular disease, (CVD) annually.
  • More than 2600 people die from CVD each day, one every 34 seconds.
  • At least 70 million Americans have some form of CVD.
  • More than 500,000 people annually have a stroke, one every 45 seconds.

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

As diabetes progresses, so does the likelihood of developing and/or worsening of chronic periodontitis. Researchers are currently studying the possibility that uncontrolled periodontal disease may interfere with glucose regulation in the body. This makes the diabetic condition worse by interfering with glucose metabolism, which in turn could increase the chance of other serious medical complications. A growing body of scientific literature suggests a bi-directional relationship. Although the exact nature of this relationship is not clear, both healthcare professionals and patients should be aware of and address this concern. It is not unusual to see very swollen gums, loose and/or shifting teeth and/or a bad taste in the diabetic condition. When gums are inflamed, local inflammatory mediators known as “cytokines” enter the blood stream and cause a negative effect on glucose regulation. By treating underlying periodontal disease, glucose regulation has a much better chance of returning to a more normal state. Home care in the diabetic patient should be meticulous to avoid making the situation worse. Additionally, the diabetic patient should see their hygienist or a periodontist every 3 months for professional maintenance of the more difficult areas of the mouth.




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