Diabetes & Gum Disease (Is it more than a complication?)

 In Oral Hygiene, Periodontal

Over the last decade, medical doctors and dentists have brought their expertise together to discover the Oral-Systemic Health Link. This link is the correlation between periodontal disease and diabetes, as well as many other life-threatening systemic diseases. While many of these illnesses connected to periodontal disease are newer discoveries, the correlation with diabetes is one science has been watching for over 25 years. In fact, periodontal disease was previously considered a complication of diabetes. Statistically, 95% of patients with diabetes also suffer from some degree of periodontal disease!

Is the connection between diabetes & gum disease more than a complication?

As more extensive research has emerged about systemic diseases and their oral manifestations as periodontal disease, the connection between the two begin to make more sense. It was previously thought that because diabetes makes patients more susceptible to contracting infections, naturally this must be the extent of its relationship with gum disease. However, new research is showing that the correlation may be more deeply rooted than that. In fact, studies show that the presence of periodontal disease may increase a patient’s risk of developing diabetes as well.

Studies done by The Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, lists diabetes as a major factor of periodontal disease. They note that patients with diabetes are three times more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-diabetic patients. The study also showed that diabetic patients with poor glycemic control run higher risks of developing periodontal disease than those who successfully manage their blood sugar. This shows that the relationship between the two diseases is more complex than the medical and dental communities previously believed.

Severe periodontal disease can wreak havoc on a diabetes patient’s health.

New research is suggesting that the relationship between these two illnesses is more reciprocal than doctors previously thought! The American Academy of Periodontology suggests that diabetes patients with periodontal disease may have a difficult time with their glycemic control. This is due to the fact that periodontal disease can actually increase a patient’s blood sugar, as an immune system reaction. This contribution to high blood sugar can put diabetes patients at risk for diabetic complications!

Despite the current decrease in periodontal disease, associated with improved oral health habits, medical researchers are suggesting that this positive trend may reverse due to the increasing number of diabetic patients being diagnosed each year.

How can patients prevent both periodontal disease and diabetes?

Of course, preventive dental care is always the best solution. There is no better remedy than preventing a medical problem before significant treatment is needed. This is a good way to prevent the issue; however, what if you already suffer from diabetes or periodontal disease? Based on the American Dental Association, studies have shown that diabetes patients with gum disease who receive periodontal therapy (scaling and root planing) decreased their blood sugar by 20% within 3 months, followed by an additional 20% by 6 months after treatment.

Diabetes patients with periodontal disease who experience bleeding gums increase their risk of premature death by 400-700%. Periodontal treatment is one of the best options for patients with diabetes to lower that risk. This treatment is also a vital option for non-diabetic patients with periodontal disease. Since patients with periodontal disease are more likely to develop diabetes, we recommend treating gum disease at the first sign.

Each of our patients is given a comprehensive exam with every visit to our office. Naturally, periodontal disease is something we look for during these exams. However, most patients don’t realize that our doctors are on the lookout for the symptoms of diabetes, among other diseases. We believe in helping our patients achieve the best oral and overall health possible. This is why we find it important to inform our patients of the risks and factors that lead to diseases, such as periodontal disease and diabetes. For more information on the Oral-Systemic Link or periodontal therapy, please feel free to contact us.

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