As with most things, periodontal disease starts small, unnoticeable. First, unattended bacteria deposit a colorless, sticky layer on your teeth, which eventually becomes plaque. Uncontrolled plaque damages gums and bone and give rise to periodontal disease. That’s the development of periodontal disease in a nutshell but there’s more to the story. More and more scientific studies are pointing to a scarier picture than at first glance. Periodontal disease is now linked to a number of systematic diseases, among them, diabetes. The periodontal disease and diabetes correlation has serious health implications.
There are ongoing debates as to whether periodontal disease compounds diabetes or whether diabetes compounds periodontal disease. Both possibilities are viable. Here are three things you need to know about periodontal disease and diabetes:
Diabetes Affects Periodontal Disease
Diabetes increases glucose presence in the saliva and that makes a conducive environment for bacteria. They have a field day and manufacture more plaque to ruin gums and teeth. That’s one scenario. In another scenario, diabetic patients tend to have high levels of inflammatory chemicals known as interleukins, that can cause damage to blood vessels. Decreased blood flow to the gums may worsen periodontal disease.
Periodontal Disease Affects Diabetes
If you have periodontal disease, it may be more difficult tocontrol diabetes. Why? Severe cases of periodontal disease increase blood sugar. That does not sit well for a diabetic person as sustained high blood glucose level can lead to diabetic complications such as damaged nerves (which further jeopardize gum health), poor eye health and hypertension.
Treat One, Treat Another
As you can see, periodontal disease and diabetes are closely linked together. One affects the other. Periodontal disease makes it hard to control blood sugar and diabetes increase risks of periodontal disease. What is one supposed to do, given the close link? Break the cycle. Studies reveal that treating periodontal disease will help you control blood glucose. Conversely, living healthy and managing diabetes will lessen your appeal as a periodontal disease candidate.
Oral hygiene is key in this vicious link. Keep periodontal disease in check with regular checkups and routine cleaning. Visit your Gettysburg dentist for a comprehensive dental exam to determine if you have periodontal disease or initial gum disease (gingivitis). Our knowledgeable and caring team at our Gettysburg dental office will be happy to help you in any possible way.
Submitted by: Peter J. Samuels, DDS
What is it like to be a dentist in Gettysburg? What is the typical day of a Gettysburg dentist? Well, here's what this family dentist did today.
The day began with Maia. Maia’s blue eyes welled with tears. The dental chair dwarfed her tiny, seven year old body. She clung to my assistant’s hand as she looked over all the strange “tooth ticklers” and squirmed nervously. “My big brother said it’s gonna hurt real bad, but my mommy said it wouldn’t be worse that a bee sting.”
“Oh my”, I thought. The family had already set the stage for a bad experience. This was going to take all my children’s dentist chairside skills! Well, we turned it all around and Maia had a great experience. Her first cavity was bonded with white, composite filling and she bragged to her mom that she never felt anything at all! We sealed the permanent molars and spent some time showing Maia how to brush and even floss so she will, hopefully, never have another cavity in her life.
Mrs. Wolfe was already in the next room. A new patient, she had called first thing this morning in pain, hoping we could work her in. Her jaw was swollen to the size of a golf ball on the lower right and she looked exhausted from lack of sleep. A quick, digital x-ray showed the culprit. An abscessed, lower right molar. I hate to blog gross, but a quick, small opening in the top of her dead tooth allowed a back pressure of pus to drain and almost instant pain relief followed. Mrs. Wolfe was a happy camper and so was I. The ability to immediately relieve pain is one of the most rewarding aspects of life as a Gettysburg dentist. Time for a course of antibiotics and a trip back in a week or so to go over some long term options.
Beep…beep..beep… the heart monitor called out its rhythm as our anesthesiologist provided his expertise in our dental sedation room. Sandra was meticulous about her health, but when it came to her teeth, her bad, childhood, dental experiences had left their mark. She hadn’t been to a dentist for 20 years before seeking us out for sedation dentistry. I remember when she first came in. A grown woman of 45, she had cried before we even examined her mouth. She tried to rationalize her fear, but she simply could not. Sandra lay quietly sedated in la la land as my team and I worked for three hours repairing years of dental neglect. She smiled at the end with pretty, new front teeth and whispered, “That felt like I was in the chair for five minutes!”
Lunch, for me, is more of a power nap time that an eat time. A time to recharge. I looked over the afternoon’s schedule. At two I would make a porcelain cap for Carmen’s upper lateral incisor. Carmen was 62. She’d broken her tooth in a bicycle accident when she was 11 and it had been down hill since. After years of patching it had finally given up the ghost and broken off at the gum-line. Luckily, dental technology had improved since Carmen’s accident. We had replaced her tooth with a titanium dental implant anchored in the jaw several months ago and today we would make the final, beautiful, all porcelain crown that goes on top. From three feet away, no one would be able to tell it wasn’t her real tooth.
Three o’clock , a Cerec , in office, computer cad cam created porcelain crown and bonded, composite fillings. Four o’clock, two orthodontic patient checks. One had Fast Braces on, and it was always fun to see how much her teeth had moved since the last visit. The other, preferring no visible wires, was wearling Invisalign aligners.
There is more. In between procedures I’ll be checking the progress of our periodontal therapy patients as they work with the hygiene department. Periodontal disease is one of the most widespread infectious diseases and the most common reason for tooth loss. It has been implicated in heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia. Treating and controlling gum disease is one of the most important jobs of the modern, family dentist and it is important healthcare.
The day in the life of a Gettysburg dentist is sometimes hectic, sometimes stressful, often rewarding, but never boring! I honestly look forward to tomorrow.
Scientists and physicians are beginning to change their minds about what’s most likely to put patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. For some time now, the key factors were believed to be things like heredity, high cholesterol, a sedentary lifestyle, age and obesity. But now a new component is beginning to emerge as possibly the most critical of them all: inflammation.
Inflammation can be the result of an infected wound. But a more common—and more persistent form—originates not on the skin but inside the mouth. Dentists call this periodontitis, perio, or simply, gum disease.
While periodontitis may result in tooth loss—which is bad enough—we’re discovering apparent links between perio and problems in other parts of the body including diabetes, heart disease, and complications of pregnancy like low-birth weight babies.
Although the jury is still out and the relationships are complex, the essence of the problem is this: periodontitis is an infection that can be picked up by the blood in the gums (and there’s plenty there) and spread where it can do additional dirty work. That’s why stopping the spread of perio—or better, preventing it in the first place—is important for reasons that go way beyond saving teeth.
Perio and the Heart
Studies in Finland noted that heart attack patients tended to have more severe oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease. Another study, following healthy patients over an 18-year period, suggested gum disease sufferers were twice as likely to die of a heart attack and nearly three times as likely to die of stroke. Other studies suggest that periodontitis is associated not only with heart attack and stroke, but is linked to a thickening of the artery wall, which typically hastens heart attack.
Protect Your Gums
Recently, oral biologists at the University of Buffalo have shown that levels of two inflammatory proteins known to raise the risk of heart disease can be reduced substantially by regularly treating inflamed gums. Blood samples drawn from patients with high levels of C-reactive protein (a known heart disease risk) and fibrinogen (which can promote blood clotting) were observed and reduced over 12 months simply through aggressive treatment of gum disease. This is exciting news!
We’re learning more about the relationship between inflammation, sore gums, teeth, heart disease, and other ailments every single day. We’re also learning what an additionally harmful effect tobacco use has on these relationships.
Gum Disease plus Smoking
Within the past few years, the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Richard Carmona, M.D., issued a report which, in part, concluded “evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between smoking and periodontitis”—not to mention cancer of the oral cavity.
Do you smoke? Do you have sore, inflamed gums? Are you worried about your heart’s health, and how much time may still be available to enjoy your life and family?
What to Do
Fighting periodontal disease through outstanding daily hygiene and regular dental appointments is a three-for-the-price-of-one proposition: protect your gums, protect your teeth, and protect your health in general. If it’s been a while since your last dental examination, let the dentists and hygienists at Samuels Dental Arts P.C. help you! Give one of our friendly ladies a call at 717-778-4268.
Recent studies have shown that a great many Americans are ignoring a simple activity that will keep their smiles looking gorgeous, help prevent cavities, reduce tooth loss, and – as many dentists and physicians believe – significantly reduce the chances of heart disease and strokes.
Though a large majority of patients swear they do this simple activity, according to the American Dental Association, more than 90% of Americans don’t! What is that simple activity? That’s easy – it’s flossing your teeth! And just remember, a quick and strenuous attempt to floss right before your visit to our office doesn’t fool us! Please continue reading – it can change your life!
Flossing is the absolute best method of cleaning bacteria and debris from the spaces in between your teeth and underneath your gums. Left alone, that harmful film can cause cavities and gum disease, as it eats away at the bone that actually holds your teeth in place and causes your teeth to loosen and, sooner or later, be lost. What’s worse, recent research has linked gum disease to heart disease and strokes. But there’s hope for everyone!
Most activities require practice and patience. You couldn’t play a musical instrument without practice and, more often than not, academic or professional tutelage. You probably never solved a complex puzzle the very first time you sat down to try it. And though flossing is certainly much easier than either of the aforementioned activities, far too many people try it just a few times and then give up in frustration believing that they can’t, and never will, do it correctly. But with a little patience and practice you definitely can! And some of the better flosses in stores today make it so much easier than it has ever been in the past.
We at Samuels Dental Arts want you to keep your beautiful teeth for the rest of your life and maintain the best overall good health possible. Doing so involves flossing – remember, that simple activity – every day. We’re here to help you! Feel free to call us at (717) 778-4268 and we will arrange for one of our friendly, professional dental team members to give you a personal lesson. Or simply ask during one of your regular appointments. We know that flossing correctly takes practice. But with the proper technique and commitment you’ll be a pro – and maintaining your beautiful smile and overall good health. Don’t wait another day! Call us today for more information. Your life and your smile are worth it!