Are Diabetics More Likely To Get Periodontal Disease?
The answer is YES! In general, diabetes does make you more susceptible to infection – any infection- and that includes periodontal disease. And there is also evidence that people with diabetes have more periodontal disease.
However, if you remember back when I began this series on the Oral-Systemic Connection and the analogy of the two way street, there also seems to be some evidence of the relationship going the other way…. That if you control periodontal disease, it may help you control your blood sugar.
Here is the theory: Having an infection, including periodontal disease can impair the body’s ability to process and/or use insulin, so if you control the infection it might be easier to control the blood sugar.
The prevalence of diabetes continues to increase yearly, creating an immense financial burden to Canadians costing over $9 billion in health care, disability, work loss and premature death. Approximately 35% of adults are unaware that they even have diabetes and as primary health care providers dental hygienists may well be at the forefront in helping to assess oral changes that may well indicate undiagnosed diabetes.
Elevated blood sugar can precipitate an increase in sugar-loving bacteria that cause and increase in plaque formation that can than lead to inflammation and periodontal diseases. Presently, there are now a number of dental offices in the United States that perform diabetes risk assessment tests to determine a client’s HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) levels especially if there is unresolved periodontal disease.
In 2000 The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) took a strong stand on this bi-directional relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes and issued a statement that that oral health professionals should contact clients’ physicians to inform them of any periodontal diseases, since periodontal infections may increase insulin resistance, lead to a worsening of the diabetic state and increase the risk of diabetic complications.
So… if you are diabetic, remember that oral homecare and professional periodontal maintenance (regular teeth cleaning) will help you to better manage your diabetes and insure that your oral and systemic health are optimal.
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Until next time,