The Link Between Periodontal Disease & Diabetes

Health problems are rarely without complications, and many complications are of an even more unpleasant nature than the original problem. This is particularly true in the case of diabetes. Nerve damage, kidney failure, and heart problems constitute the very real, very unpleasant, side-effects of diabetes that almost everyone is familiar with.

Periodontal disease: What is it?

Few people know that diabetes is also linked to an increased incidence of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease represents the infection of the soft and hard oral tissue – the gums and the bone structure – and it causes pain and discomfort when you chew. Left unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. The mere presence of the infection in the body hinders the patient’s ability to maintain control over blood sugar levels.

Diabetic control and periodontal disease

To be fair, periodontal disease is more closely linked to reduced blood sugar control, which is most prevalent among diabetics. Studies show that a patient with diabetes who is able to exercise control over their blood sugar levels does not present a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, compared to a healthy person.

The category of patients who have diabetes, that is least capable of managing blood sugar effectively and therefore more likely to get periodontal disease, are young children with Type 1 Diabetes who require insulin to survive.

Based on these observations, researchers have concluded that the best way for a diabetic to avoid developing periodontal disease is to keep their blood sugar levels from fluctuating wildly. In addition, stable blood sugar levels also help to prevent other complications, including eye and nerve damage, and heart conditions.

Thriving bacteria

A high percentage of harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, begin to multiply excessively when the glucose in the saliva exceeds a certain threshold, setting the stage for infections. Considering that the aforementioned circumstance is common in diabetics with limited control over their blood sugar, it’s evident why periodontal disease is just one step away.

Smoking in diabetics and periodontal disease

Pulmonary cancer and heart conditions are the most frequently cited consequences of smoking, but recent studies have also revealed that this nasty habit boosts incidences of oral infections and periodontal disease. Even if a smoker isn’t suffering from diabetes, he or she is still approximately five times more at risk. The problem is even more serious for diabetics who smoke; for them, the chances of ending up with these oral conditions are about twenty times higher.

Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

Suffering from a form of diabetes doesn’t have to mean that you’ll also develop periodontal disease. Taking the necessary precautions and respecting your physician’s advice regarding the proper diet and treatment, as well as refraining from habits like smoking, will help you lower the risk of oral infections to the level of a completely healthy person.