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The Link Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

There is a large amount of documentation about periodontal disease and both types of diabetes. However, even with recent scientific evidence and documentation, many people still do not know that the two conditions can affect each other in a cyclical manner. According to well documented literature, diabetic patients are at a 3-fold greater risk for developing periodontal disease than non-diabetic patients. Furthermore, those diabetic patients with poor control are at an even higher risk than those with good diabetic control.

The Littleton and Aurora periodontists at Periodontal Associates are leading resources about the connection between periodontal disease and diabetes. Patients from all over the Denver area turn to our periodontists for up-to-date information regarding the mouth-body connection .

Understanding Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to produce (type I) or properly utilize (type II) insulin, leaving elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. When blood sugar remains high for too long, damage to blood vessels and other vital organs begins to occur. When the diabetic condition is left uncontrolled, a large array of other complications can happen.

Periodontal disease, which has been considered the sixth complication of uncontrolled diabetes, is a progressive condition caused by infection of the gum tissues surrounding teeth. If left uncontrolled, infection penetrates deeper into the space around a tooth causing inflammation. Inflammation leads to the destruction of bone and ligaments around the teeth. The end result of untreated periodontal disease is tooth loss.

The Mouth-Body Connection

Why would periodontal disease and diabetes be related? Doesn’t one have to do with your mouth and the other has to do with your body? Well, our mouth is connected to the rest of our body, so what happens in the oral cavity doesn’t just stay in the mouth, it has a direct effect on the body and vice versa.

The severity of periodontal disease in the oral cavity can increase the amount of sugar that stays within the blood. In diabetics, this is a huge problem. A chronic elevation in blood sugar levels irritates blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels do not allow the same passage of nutrients and oxygen required for proper cell and organ function that non damaged vessels do. Without proper nutrient and oxygen delivery to tissues, kidneys, nerve cells, eyes, skin and gum tissues among others become damaged. Additionally, the body’s immune function becomes sluggish and slow which makes the body much more susceptible to infections. If an individual already has periodontal disease the effects are cumulative and destruction of the supporting structures of teeth becomes much more rapid. When poor oral hygiene gets added to the mix the results are disastrous in the mouth.

It is extremely important that a diagnosis of both uncontrolled diabetes and periodontal disease be addressed as soon as possible. This makes dental exams and routine professional hygiene paramount. By reducing the amount of bacteria present in the mouth through proper daily oral hygiene and professional cleanings, one can actually lower the severity of diabetes. Similarly, by improving one’s diabetic control, one can improve their periodontal condition as well.

Our Littleton / Aurora periodontists, also serving Denver communities, will work in conjunction with you and your primary care physician to help keep your mouth and your body healthy. Drs. Versman, Heller, Beckman and Thousand use the latest advances in the field of periodontics to make sure your mouth and your body are as healthy as possible. To meet with us, please request an appointment or call (303) 755-4500 today.

Your Dental Health Starts Here. Request an Appointment.

Or call — 303-755-4500
  • Brenda S.Brenda S.

    Excellent experience! I had a tooth removed and implant placed during the same visit. It was the easiest dental procedure I've ever had done. Dr. Beckman is...

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