Periodontal (gum) disease may result from gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums usually caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky film that accumulates on teeth both above and below the gum line. Without regular dental checkups, periodontal disease may result, if gingivitis is left untreated. Periodontal disease can also cause inflammation and destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth, gums (gingiva), bone and fibers which hold the gums to the teeth. A number of factors increase the probability of developing periodontal disease, including diabetes, smoking/tobacco/alcohol, poor oral hygiene, diet, and heredity; and it is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.
Currently, 95 percent of those with diagnosed diabetes also have periodontal disease. Due to delayed healing in diabetics, oral infections tend to be more severe in diabetic patients than non-diabetic patients, but more so in diabetics who are not controlling their blood sugar levels. These infections occur more often after puberty and in aging patients.
Diabetics may experience diminished salivary flow and burning mouth or tongue. Dry mouth (xerostomia) also may develop, causing an increased incidence of decay. Gum recession has been found to occur more frequently and more extensively in moderate- and poorly-controlled diabetic patients because plaque responds differently (this is not clear – please fix), creating more harmful proteins in the gums. To prevent problems with bacterial infections in the mouth, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses, and more frequent cleanings.
If you are a diabetic, make sure to take extra good care of your mouth and have dental infections treated immediately. Diabetics who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance at controlling oral health problems. Diet and exercise may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve their quality of life and their oral health. Diabetic patients should be sure that both their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status. To keep teeth and gums strong, diabetic patients should be aware of their blood sugar level in addition to having their triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. All of these factors may have a direct correlation on the chances that a diabetic may develop periodontal disease.
Morning appointments are best for diabetics as blood glucose levels tend to be more stable. If your blood sugar is not under control, talk with both your dentist and physician about receiving elective dental care. If you have a scheduled appointment, eat and take your medications as directed.