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Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

It is well documented that people who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections than non-diabetes sufferers.  It is not widely known that t periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes; particularly when the diabetes is not under proper control.

Periodontal disease (often called periodontitis and gum disease) is a progressive condition that often leads to tooth loss if treatment is not promptly sought.  Periodontal disease begins with a bacterial infection in the gingival tissue which surrounds the teeth.  As the bacteria colonize, the gum pockets become deeper, the gums recede as tissue is destroyed and the periodontitis eventually attacks the underlying bone tissue.

Diabetes is characterized by too much glucose (or sugar) in the blood.  Type II diabetics are unable to regulate insulin levels which means excess glucose stays in the blood.  Type I diabetics do not produce any insulin at all.  Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Reasons for the Connection

Experts suggest the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease can worsen both conditions if either condition is not properly controlled.

Here are ways in which diabetes and periodontal disease are linked:

  • Increased blood sugar – Moderate and severe periodontal disease elevates sugar levels in the body, increasing the amount of time the body has to function with high blood sugar.  This is why diabetics with periodontitis have difficulty keeping control of their blood sugar.  In addition, the higher sugar levels found in the mouth of diabetics provide food for the very bacteria that worsen periodontal infections.

  • Blood vessel thickening – The thickening of the blood vessels is one of the other major concerns for diabetes sufferers.  The blood vessels normally serve a vital function for tissues by delivering nutrients and removing waste products.  With diabetes, the blood vessels become too thick for these exchanges to occur.  This means that harmful waste is left in the mouth and can weaken the resistance of gum tissue, which can lead to infection and gum disease.

  • Smoking – Tobacco use does a great deal of damage in the oral region.  Not only does tobacco use slow the healing process, it also vastly increases the chances of an individual developing periodontal disease.  For diabetics who smoke, the risk is exponentially greater.  In fact, diabetic smokers aged 45 and over are twenty times more likely to develop periodontal disease.

  • Poor oral hygiene – It is essential for diabetics to maintain excellent levels of oral health.  When daily brushing and flossing does not occur, the harmful oral bacteria can ingest the excess sugar between the teeth and colonize more freely below the gum line.  This exacerbates the metabolic problems that diabetes sufferers experience.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is of paramount importance for people suffering from any type of diabetes to see the dentist at least twice yearly for checkups and professional cleanings.  Studies have shown that simple non-surgical periodontal treatments can lower the HbA1c (hemoglobin molecule blood test) count by as much as 20% in a six month period.

The dentist will use medical history, family history and dental X-rays to assess the risk factors for periodontal disease and determine the exact condition of the gums, teeth and underlying jawbone.  If necessary the dentist will work in conjunction with other doctors to ensure that both the diabetes and the gum disease are being managed and controlled as effectively as possible.

Non-surgical procedures performed by the dentist and dental hygienist include deep scaling, where calculus (tartar) will be removed from the teeth above and below the gumline, and root planing, where the root of the tooth is smoothed down to eliminate any remaining bacteria.  Antibiotics may be applied to the gum pockets to promote healing.

Before and after periodontal treatment, the dentist and hygienist will recommend proper home care and oral maintenance as well as prescribing prescription mouthwashes which serve to deter further bacteria colonization.

If you have questions or concerns about diabetes or periodontal disease, please ask your dentist.

Testimonials

I have been a patient of Dr. Weissglass for over 15 years. I have had both gum and implant surgery performed by Dr. Weissglass and his team with nothing but outstanding results from both experiences. Dr. Weissglass is in a class of his own and his staff warrants the same recognition. Dr. Weissglass truly cares for the well being of his patients and always goes the extra yard to insure his patients receive the level of care commensurate with their respective circumstances. I continue to visit Dr. Weissglass' office every three months for a cleaning. Kim the Hygienist, is very experienced and always provides me with a thorough and comfortable cleaning session. Overall the level of professionalism and experience offered by Dr. Weissglass and his staff insures both current and future patients are treated with the highest level of quality and care. I will continue to be his patient for as long as I need his help to remedy my dental related requirements.

Phillip

I remain totally satisfied with the implants that Dr. Weisglass placed in my mouth. Moreover, having had more than one root canal, I was very happy when I heard that there is no such thing as performing this procedure on implants. My implants have been, for me,a win-win situation all around!!
Proud of my transformed smile.

Raymond

With a Harvard degree hanging in the waiting room, what should you expect? Competent, smart,efficient and up-to-date. Yes, but that would not be the whole story. The friendly feel-at- home atmosphere is what sets this office apart. Chair-side manner is just as important as skill. From the front office staff to the dental hygienists all approach their tasks with genuine care for their patients that matches their level of proficiency. Fear not! If you need periodontal care, you will be in good hands. As long-time patients, we can highly recommend Dr. Weisglass.

Janet & David

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