Diabetics know that their disease can affect several bodily functions and systems, such as the heart, nervous system and kidneys, but a new study has shown that diabetics are also more prone to developing gum disease. Gum disease affects the gums and bones that holds the teeth in place and can lead to pain and tissue damage. In its early stage, gum disease is referred to as gingivitis and can cause swollen and red gums that may bleed. The more serious stage of the disease is called periodontitis, and this can cause the gums to pull away from the tooth and bone loss. If left untreated, it can even result in tooth loss.
A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania proved that there is a link between diabetes and abnormalities in the oral microbiome when they compared the oral microbiome of healthy versus diabetic mice. The research found that the microbiome in the latter were less diverse and therefore less efficient in keeping the gums healthy—more often resulting in bone loss and inflammation.
Why are diabetics more likely to develop gum disease?
The link between diabetes and gum disease can be explained by the fact that many kinds of bacteria found in the mouth flourish on sugars. When diabetes and/or blood sugar is not under control, the mouth will have higher glucose levels in its fluids, which supports the growth of germs and bacteria and can eventually cause gum disease to develop.
To make things worse, the infection itself can also contribute to increased blood sugar levels. For a diabetic, this means diabetes will be even harder to control once the infection has broken out.
What are the best ways to avoid it?
The link between diabetes and gum disease confirms the importance of a holistic mindset when it comes to overall health. Maintaining good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleaning will help, and is important, but the key thing for a diabetic is to keep blood sugar levels in check to prevent the manifestation of gum disease entirely. This means making significant lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy and balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and eating to make sure blood sugar remains steady and controlled.
Source: Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, of Cariodontal (310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-282-0310 or visit Cariodontal.com.