Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Connection Found between Gum Disease and Diabetes

According to experts, a link exists between gum disease and diabetes. People with diabetes have an increased chance of having periodontal disease—or an advanced form of gum disease caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth.

Researchers say this is probably true because it is easier for people with diabetes to contract bacterial infections compared with people who are not diabetic. Diabetes also decreases people’s ability to fight bacteria that attack the gums. This occurs because uncontrolled diabetes weakens white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against the bacterial infections that plague the mouth.

People who do not have their diabetes under control are particularly at risk for gum disease, which is considered a complication of diabetes. One study proved that patients with type 2 diabetes were more likely to get periodontal disease if they were not managing their diabetes well. Periodontal disease can also make it harder to control one’s diabetes, so a vicious cycle can ensue.

Severe periodontal disease can spark a rise in blood sugar, thus causing the body to have to function with high blood sugar levels more often. Diabetics therefore are at a higher risk for diabetic complications. It is important that people who have both diabetes and periodontal disease undergo treatment for their gum disease. One study shows that when people have both diseases but treat their periodontal disease, their ability to control their diabetes significantly increases.

It is also worth noting that people who smoke and have diabetes are 20 times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Anyone with diabetes and periodontal disease must practice proper brushing/flossing habits and visit the dentist for regular cleanings in order to keep these diseases under control.

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