Stopping a Vicious Cycle
Diabetes is becoming a common American disease. Scientific American reports that over twenty million Americans have it and more are diagnosed every day. Since the 1980’s, scientists have realized that patients with diabetes experience periodontal disease and dental decay at rates far beyond those of the general population. The consequences of periodontal disease for diabetics should be important to patients with the disease or those who have family members with diabetes.
In diabetics, the body no longer produces insulin (type 1) or produces insufficient insulin (type 2). Insulin is necessary in your bloodstream to transfer sugar from the blood to the body cells. Without insulin, sugar levels in the blood rise to dangerously high levels, affecting overall body health. Diabetics monitor their blood sugar level and can adjust it by injecting insulin. While type 1 diabetes is primarily due to genetics, type 2 is generally associated with obesity.
Dental studies have demonstrated that type 2 diabetics are twice as prone to periodontal disease (inflammation of the gums leading to tooth decay). Even worse, periodontal disease in diabetics is now known to aggravate the symptoms of diabetes. Thus, while diabetes leads to gum disease, gum disease makes it harder to manage the symptoms of diabetes. You can see this vicious cycle can only be stopped by good oral health!
Evidently, inflammatory molecules produced by the immune system as a response to oral disease make it even harder for diabetics to regulate their blood sugar. Cure the periodontal disease and the oral tissues stop producing molecules that lead to insulin resistance. Addressing this issue is important as the more serious consequences of diabetes include nerve damage, heart and kidney disease and other major health issues.
One part of the solution to this spiral of worsening symptoms is maintaining good oral health for diabetics. It is extremely important for our diabetic patients to visit the doctors and offices of the Sacramento Dentistry Group on a regular basis. Preventing periodontal disease is much easier than treating it.
In addition to making regular visits to the dentist, brushing your teeth after every meal and flossing the teeth every day are vital to halting gum disease. A mechanical toothbrush may be especially beneficial for those who are “lazy” with a toothbrush. If a diabetic patient notices the first signs of periodontal disease, swelling or bleeding gums, it is essential that they schedule a visit with our office immediately. Ignoring this condition can lead to more than just tooth decay in diabetics! Indeed, preventing gum disease is an essential part of their overall treatment regimen.