Periodontal Disease & Diabetes East Point and Smyrna, GA

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People who suffer from diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections than those without the condition. It’s not widely known that periodontal disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes — particularly when the diabetes isn’t under proper control.

Periodontal disease (often called 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 gingival tissue which surrounds the teeth. As the bacteria colonize, the gum pockets become deeper, the gums recede, and periodontitis eventually attacks the underlying bone tissue.

Diabetes is a serious condition characterized by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. While type II diabetics are unable to regulate insulin levels, which means excess glucose stays in the blood, type I diabetics don’t produce any insulin at all.

Connecting the Dots

Experts 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.
  • Smoking – Tobacco use does a great deal of damage to the oral region.  Not only does tobacco use slow the healing process, but 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 periodontal disease.
  • Poor oral hygiene – It is essential for diabetics to maintain excellent levels of oral health.  When daily brushing and flossing do not occur, 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.
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Diagnosis and Treatment

It’s crucial 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 percent in six months.

Dr. Jarrett will use your 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, she’ll work in conjunction with other doctors to ensure that both diabetes and gum disease are managed and controlled as effectively as possible.​

Non-surgical procedures performed by the dentist and dental hygienist include deep scaling, where tartar is removed from the teeth below the gum line, and root planing, where the tooth roots are smoothed down to eliminate any remaining bacteria. Antibiotics may be applied to the gum pockets to promote healing.

Before and after periodontal treatment, our team will recommend proper home care and oral maintenance as well as prescribing prescription mouthwashes that serve to deter further bacteria colonization. Please feel free to ask Dr. Jarrett Manning if you have questions or concerns about diabetes or periodontal disease.

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