Something to Smile About: How Healthy Gums Can Help Diabetics Cope With the Disease

Periodontal disease is a major public health problem that isn’t to be taken lightly- particularly if you are a diabetic.

A proper cleaning routine can help diabetics improve their smiles and keep their blood sugar levels under control.

Periodontal disease- better known as gum disease- is a chronic inflammatory disease that effects the gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections, which is one reason why gum disease is a common complication of diabetes. In severe cases, it can increase blood sugar levels, putting diabetes patients at risk for complications.

“Periodontal disease sets off the body’s inflammatory response which can affect insulin sensitivity and ultimately bring about unsafe blood sugar levels,” said Dr. Gary Cheloha, who owns Monument Smiles, a Scottsbluff dentistry practice.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects 346 million people worldwide, and the number is expected to increase with time. The International Diabetes Federation emphasizes the importance of diabetics maintaining a periodontal care routine. Maintaining healthy gums has been shown to help diabetics control their blood sugar levels, and even help reduce the risk of developing the disease.

Another at-risk public is the prediabetics who suffer from a condition in which blood glucose levels are abnormal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Maintaining healthy gums may significantly improve patients’ chances of preventing type 2 diabetes, which will occur in some patients within 10 years.

Periodontal disease can be treated in several ways, depending on the stage and severity.

“The earlier it can be detected, the easier it is to treat,” said Dr. Cheloha, a Scottsbluff dentist. “Maintaining routine dental visits is a must if this is to be accomplished, particularly if you are diabetic.”

Once periodontal disease is diagnosed, non-surgical treatment is the least invasive method. It involves plaque and tartar removal from the surface of the teeth’s roots.

Dr. Cheloha treats patients with various degrees of periodontal disease at his office. He offers treatments that restore gum health, including root planing.

Periodontal surgery is required when the disease has been left untreated and progressed to advanced stages. Surgery can help restore areas damaged by the disease that could not be restored otherwise. A dental professional should determine which necessary treatment is best for the the patient. The most common surgical treatments include pocket reduction procedures, regenerative procedures, crown lengthening, and soft tissue grafts.

Periodontal disease should not only be a diabetic’s concern. The disease has been known to effect more than the mouth, and is linked to overall health issues such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer.

Periodontal disease symptoms may only appear at a later stage of the disease, but some warning signs include red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing, persistent bad breath, and loose teeth.

Treating symptoms as soon as they appear will increase chances of gum health restoration, which in turn will better diabetics’ ability to control their disease.