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 periodontal
disease is often considered the sixth most common complication of
diabetes; particularly when the diabetes is not under proper control.
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
gum 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.
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
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.
– 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
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
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.
Dr. Prilutsky 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 Dr. Prilutsky 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.
procedures performed by Dr. Prilutsky include scaling and root planing (deep cleaning), where calculus (tartar) will be removed from the teeth above
and below the gumline, and LASER therapy. Antibiotics may be recommended as well to promote healing.
and after periodontal treatment, Dr. Prilutsky will
recommend proper home care and oral maintenance as well as prescribing
prescription mouthwashes which serve to deter further bacteria
If you have questions or concerns about diabetes or periodontal disease, please ask Dr. Prilutsky.