Diabetes and Gum Disease

Infections in the mouth can cause complications in other areas of the body.

Recent research indicates a relationship between periodontal diseases and chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimers.

Diabetes affects over 24 million Americans with 1.6 million new cases diagnosed each year in people over age 20.

In order for the brain and body to function properly, the body needs insulin (a hormone) to convert glucose (blood sugar) to energy. Glucose comes from the food we eat. Without enough insulin, glucose stays in the blood creating high levels of blood sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) is a major cause of diabetes complications and a variety of chronic conditions.

Periodontitis is an inflammation and infection of the gums which results in the destruction of tissues and supporting bone around the tooth.  Left untreated, it can lead to the loosening of teeth and eventual tooth loss. Diabetes and smoking are the top risk factors for severe and progressive periodontitis.

People with diabetes are 2x times more likely to develop gum disease because their bodies are more susceptible to bacterial infection and less able to fight the germs that lead to serious gum disease. People who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.

Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar. When blood sugar levels remain high, bacterial growth occurs on the teeth, gums and below the gum line causing infection, inflammation and receding gums – all indicators of possible progression to periodontal disease.

Once periodontitis cultivates, some of the oral bacteria may enter the body through the blood stream causing inflammation in other parts of the body leading to chronic conditions and compromising overall health.

Tips to lower the risk of both diabetes and periodontal disease:

  • Regularly monitor blood sugar levels
  • eat a healthy diet
  • engage in regular physical activity
  • don’t smoke
  • maintain good oral hygiene including dental cleanings every six months.

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