Gum Disease and Diabetes: What’s the Connection?
Diabetes is a common disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, 9.3% of the American population had diabetes in 2012. It’s also a serious disease being the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010.
Diabetes is serious because it can lead to so many complications. It may increase your chances for heart disease. It can lead to blindness. Foot problems are a common complication. In 2010 complications from diabetes resulted in 73,000 amputations.
While the statistics seem depressing, the good news is that with the proper care many of these complications can be delayed or avoided altogether. Listen to your physician and do what he or she tells you.
Make sure to visit your dentist as well! One of the complications of diabetes is gingivitis or gum disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, gum disease has been called the fifth complication of diabetes (after heart, nerve, kidney and eye disease).
What’s the link between gum disease and diabetes? Diabetes results in a greater inflammatory response to the bacteria present around the teeth and gums. If left untreated, the resulting inflammation and infection can then develop into periodontal disease, which can lead to bone loss and, ultimately, tooth loss.
Conversly, gum disease can affect diabetes.. As periodontal infection progresses it can make it increasingly difficult for someone with diabetes to control his or her blood sugars. In other words, not only can diabetes lead to periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can then increase the severity of the diabetes.
There is a happy side to this, though. Periodontal disease can often be treated conservatively and without surgery. If your gum disease is treated, it will make it easier, in the long run, to keep your blood sugar under control.
With the right care, today's diabetic can usually live a long and happy life. Your dentist has an important part to play in helping you stay healthy!
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.