The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes.

Gum, or periodontal disease, refers to a condition where the gums and the structures around the teeth become inflamed. While periodontal disease is not just harmful to your oral health, prolonged and untreated periodontal problems can also affect your physical health. 

Did you know that periodontal disease is the most common dental disease that affects diabetic people? According to the American Dental Association, about 22% of individuals with diabetes are diagnosed with periodontal disease. 

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes; A two-way Link

Research suggests that a two-way relationship exists between diabetes and periodontal inflammation. But what do high blood sugar levels have to do with the inflammation of the gums? The answer is that when blood glucose is persistently high, it becomes more difficult for diabetics to defend their bodies against harmful bacteria. The higher your blood glucose levels, the easier it is for the harmful bacteria to grow and replicate in the oral cavity. 

At the same time, research has established that severe periodontal disease can result in rising blood sugar levels. Increased blood sugar levels raise the risk of diabetic medical complications such as eye problems, renal problems, stroke, and even heart attack. 

How Does Gum Disease Increase Blood Sugar Levels?

Scientists believe that some of the harmful bacteria in your mouth gain access to the bloodstream through routine activities such as eating and brushing. These bacteria then initiate a chain of reactions that activate the body’s defense systems, leading to the release of some chemicals and molecules that – in addition to neutralizing the bacteria – also have deleterious effects on the body. One of these adverse effects is increased blood sugar. 

Can Periodontal Treatment Help in Controlling Diabetes?

The good news is that periodontal treatment procedures, such as a dental deep cleaning which includes scaling and polishing, can result in a drop in blood sugar levels in type II diabetic individuals with severe periodontal inflammation. This beneficial effect is similar to adding another anti-diabetic drug to their routine medication. 

How to Minimize the Risk of Diabetes and Periodontal Inflammation?

Here’s what you can do to keep your gums healthy, and decrease your risk of diabetes:

  • Maintain Good Regular Hygiene – make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, and floss at least once each day. It is always a good idea to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride-containing toothpaste. 
  • Visit Your Dentist Regularly – visiting your dentist regularly not only ensures that your risk of having periodontal inflammation is minimized, but it also decreases your chances of having high blood sugar levels and diabetic complications caused by uncontrolled gum inflammation. 
  • Visit your Doctor Regularly – since periodontal inflammation and diabetes are linked, it is a good idea to visit your doctor regularly so that your blood sugar levels can be monitored frequently. 

Periodontal disease is preventable and easily treatable in the early stages. However, if left untreated it can lead to some serious medical complications, especially in diabetic individuals. If you simply maintain optimal oral hygiene, eat healthily, and visit your dentist regularly, then you won’t have to worry about gum problems or your blood sugar levels either.