Periodontal disease starts with bacterial growth in your mouth and can lead to tooth loss. One of the main causes of periodontitis is dental plaque. Other factors are:
- Hormonal changes
- Poor oral hygiene
- A family history of the disease
Gum disease can progress slowly and painlessly without any warning signs. There are however, symptoms to look out for including bleeding gums, bad breath, and the formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums. A dentist can diagnose periodontal disease during a dental exam by checking for the following:
- Gum swelling or bleeding
- Teeth movement and sensitivity
- Bone loss evident on x-rays
- Pockets between the gums and teeth
There is a link between periodontal disease and diabetes. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than non diabetics. Diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections in general and gum disease is a form of infection. Patients with poor blood sugar control get gum disease more often and more severely. Their immune system may not function properly, thus creating the risk of developing gum problems. Another theory is that damage to capillaries in the gums of diabetics may reduce the blood supply to the gums. Lack of a good blood supply may limit the gum tissue’s response to infection and the ability to heal.
It is imperative that people with diabetes visit a dentist regularly. Good blood glucose control is a key factor in controlling and preventing mouth problems. A dentist can detect and treat gum issues before they become extreme. Good oral hygiene is also important. Your routine should include brushing, flossing daily.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.