What is Periodontal Disease and how is it Connected to Diabetes?

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Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is commonly known as gum disease. It is a type of oral disease that a dentist can diagnose after an oral examination. Gum disease is painless in its early stages, and that is why many people ignore its symptoms. However, as the infection grows, the aggravated inflammation becomes excruciating.

This is why you mustn’t ignore your oral health and visit your dentist for regular check-ups. It is even more critical because periodontal diseases can also lead to other health issues in the body. 

Before we get into the implications of periodontal disease, let’s learn about it in further detail below!

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal or gum disease is mainly a result of oral bacteria creating tartar and plaque buildup in your mouth. Suppose you are not proactive about your oral health and hygiene. In that case, tartar can penetrate its way into the gums and cause severe infections.

Periodontal disease causes irritation in the gums, which may lead to bleeding during flossing or brushing. It is vital to take preventive measures for gum disease because there is no straightforward cure for it once you’re infected. However, treatment for the condition is crucial for preventing the diseases from growing and causing further damage. 

Your dentist may recommend deep cleaning or prescribe antibiotics. That is why you must visit your dentist right away if you think your oral health is acting up. 

What are the Signs of Periodontal Disease?

If you think you might have periodontal disease, then here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Bleeding from gums while flossing or brushing Bad breath or taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth or development of spaces between them
  • Development of pus around the gums
  • Aggravated diabetes
  • Swollen, red, or fragile gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Dentures not fitting anymore
  • Pus between teeth
  • Change in jaw alignment or bite

What are the Causes of Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is due to several factors. The common reasons include the following:

  • Lack of regular oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, and dental appointments 
  • Smoking/excessive use of tobacco
  • Diabetes

What are the Different Stages of Gum disease?

Gum disease develops in three stages. They are explained as follows:

Stage 1: Gingivitis

This is the initial stage of the development of gum disease. During gingivitis, the pockets around the gums begin to swell due to inflammation in the tissues. It would be best if you visited your dentist right away so that they can determine the actual size of the space between the teeth and the gum tissue.

If the space is shorter than 3 millimeters, an infection may be prevented. However, if it is longer, it indicates that plaque has already made its way and the condition is growing, but it hasn’t reached the bone in the socket.   

Stage 2: Periodontitis

When gum disease has advanced to this stage, it means the space between teeth and gum has extended because of continuous exposure to tartar and plaque. At this stage, gums bleed easily, and loss of bone initiates. If the condition is promptly treated, it can still be managed without the need for specialized treatment. 

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis

The bone loss becomes more severe at this stage, and bacteria begin to infect the gaps between teeth and gums. This leads to severe damage to the root and socket. The advanced infection causes the loosening of the root from the bone. 

If the condition isn’t promptly treated, the teeth can be lost. Your dentist may suggest oral gum surgery or laser treatments for reducing a large number of periodontal pockets.  

How is Gum Disease Diagnosed?

To diagnose gum disease, your dentist will ask for information about your health history, health condition, and any current medication you’re on. If you have diabetes, you must share information about your blood glucose level history with the dentist.

After gathering your health history, the dentist will proceed with the diagnosis by: 

  • Checking your gums for signs of inflammation and pus
  • Measuring the pockets around teeth with the help of a probe
  • Taking X-rays to identify whether there is the bone loss

If the dentist diagnosis you with gum disease, then they may refer you to a periodontist. Periodontists are gum disease specialists who will evaluate your gums and teeth and then recommend appropriate treatment methods according to your condition.  

What is the relationship between Diabetes and Gum Diseases?

The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is a two-way stream because one affects and may cause the other. For several years, doctors have noticed that people who have diabetes are much more likely to develop an oral infection than non-diabetic people. 

If someone has severe gum disease, then it can affect the blood sugar levels dramatically and increase the risk of diabetes. There is a reason that gum disease is usually considered the sixth complication of an unmanaged diabetes condition.   

Diabetes is a severe health condition in which the patient has too much glucose in their blood. People with type I diabetes cannot produce insulin in the body. In contrast, people with type II diabetes are unable to regulate it in the bloodstream.

 Both periodontal disease and diabetes are hazardous for a person’s health. This danger becomes even more destructive when both conditions combine. Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

That is why it is essential to keep your oral health in check and visit your dentist regularly. The sooner gum disease is identified, the easier it would be to treat and minimize it. Similarly, keeping your blood sugar levels in check is equally important. If you have diabetes, then you must take extra care of your oral hygiene and visit your dentist at least once every six months. 

How do Periodontal Disease and Diabetes Affect Each Other?

If you’re wondering about how each of these conditions affects each other, then keep reading as we will explore the reasons in this section. It is a fact that the presence of both diseases causes further complications. If one of them is not treated correctly, it can worsen the other severely.

Here’s how diabetes and periodontal disease affect each other:   

  1. Blood Sugar Increase: Severe periodontal conditions increase sugar levels in the body, which leads to the presence of high sugar blood in the body for longer. That is the reason why diabetes patients with periodontal conditions have a difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels. 

Moreover, excessive sugar becomes food for the bacteria and worsens the periodontal disease in the mouth.

  1. Thickening of Blood Vessels: The blood vessels are responsible for delivering nutrients and removing waste from different parts of the body. When a person has diabetes, their blood vessels thicken, and they can’t perform their function efficiently.   

This results in harmful waste products being left in the mouth for more extended periods can damage the gum tissue. The thickening of vessels often leads to worsening gum disease and infection.  

  1. Complications due to Smoking: If a person with diabetes smokes, the risk of developing periodontal disease increases significantly. The use of tobacco damages the oral health of a person severely. It also slows down the healing process and increases the chances of aggravating oral infections. That is why smoking, diabetes, and periodontal disease are a deadly mix.  
  1. Lower Oral Health: People with diabetes need to take extra measures for maintaining their oral hygiene and health. Because of the excessive sugar, the bacteria and infections grow much more rapidly as they feed on that sugar and increase in number. They infect the gum and bone area much more quickly, and the risk of losing the teeth also increases twofold. 

How does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

If a person leaves diabetes untreated or uncontrolled, then it can affect their oral health severely. Here’s what will happen if you’re not careful:

  • Dry mouth due to reduced production of saliva. Dry mouth can also be caused due to the medication for diabetes. 
  • Due to a reduction in saliva, the risk of developing cavities increases significantly.
  • You will be more prone to developing gingivitis due to bleeding and inflammation in the gums.
  • Higher risk of losing or weakening of the sense of taste.
  • Diabetes will make the healing process slower, resulting in aggravation of inflammation. 
  • It increases the chance of developing infections in your mouth.
  • In the case of a diabetic child, their teeth may erupt much sooner than expected.

How is Gum Disease Treated?

The type of treatment for gum disease depends on your condition. Your dentist considers the severity of your symptoms, general health, and age while determining the right treatment method. 

Following are the three main types of treatments carried out for gum disease:

  1. Deep Cleaning (Plaque and tartar removal): If the condition is not severe, then your dentist may be able to treat it with a deep cleaning in which tartar and plaque are removed beneath the gums. This treatment method is also called root planing or scaling. It helps remove the plaque and calculus underneath the infected tissues and gums. It also helps minimize the inflammation in the root surfaces. Then, the dentist will reattach the gums to the teeth. This will help make the periodontal pocket smaller.
  2. Medication: Another treatment method is prescription drugs such as antibiotics to treat the inflammation and infection in the periodontal pockets.
  3. Oral Surgery: If the disease has reached an advanced stage, then the dentist may have to perform oral surgery to clean the infected area underneath your gums and then replace or reshape the tissues. The dentist may perform surgery such as periodontal regeneration, pocket reduction, crown lengthening, or soft tissue graft. 

What Can I Do to Prevent Gum Disease? 

A cure for periodontal disease may not be available. Still, there is a lot that you can do to prevent the disease from infecting you. The first thing that you need to do is be proactive about your oral hygiene. If you have diabetes, then taking proper care of your teeth and gums can prevent the complications caused due to diabetes. 

Here are a few tips for brushing and flossing your teeth properly: 

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush your teeth in gentle and circular, and back-and-forth motions.
  • Always brush your tongue along with your teeth every time.
  • Use dental floss of at least 18 inches in length with each use. 
  • Do not perform a “sawing” motion in either of these cleaning methods.
  • Curve the floss to ensure that all parts of the teeth are correctly covered.
  • Always rinse after flossing.

Here’s how you can protect your gums from damage if you have diabetes: 

  • Control blood glucose levels
  • Visit your dentist for check-ups regularly.
  • Keep your dentist in the loop about your diabetes condition and treatment.
  • If your blood sugar level isn’t average, then don’t go for a non-emergency dental procedure.
  • Stop smoking
  • Remove and clean your dentures regularly.
  • Adopt a healthy and balanced diet
  • Scheduled regular medical and dental appointments

How Can A Dentist Help?

If you have diabetes and worry about developing periodontal disease, visit your dentist regularly and take extra care of your oral hygiene. Make sure you also keep your blood sugar levels in control. It will help if you manage these diseases, so you don’t cause further complications in other parts of your body. 

Are you suffering from gum disease? Then don’t delay any further and get in touch with Dr. Owyoung at Soft Touch right now for expert consultation and treatment!