Gum Disease and Its Link to Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, 30 million Americans are diabetic. Sadly, diabetes is connected to problems not limited to the world of medicine. There are studies reporting a major association between diabetes and gum disease. A diabetic is significantly more likely to develop gingivitis or periodontitis.

Some studies show that having gum disease on any level can negatively affect a patient’s ability to keep their blood sugar under control. Also, many experts believe that diabetes negatively affects a patient’s oral health, as high blood sugar increases the patient’s susceptibility to infection.

Neglecting diabetes can lead to serious consequences. Patients with diabetes and any stage of gum disease have been connected to serious health problems such as heart disease and kidney disease, as well as a higher risk of strokes.

Given proper attention, diabetes is manageable. The sooner patients are aware of their disease, the sooner they can make changes in their lifestyle to control the disease.

Many people never get their glucose tested. However, many are likely to visit their dentist twice a year for cleanings as recommended. These routine dental appointments could be an opportunity for patients to learn about diabetes and their health.

Although dental and medical professionals don’t always want to extend advice outside their area of expertise, there is an easy way to approach the diabetes/gum disease dilemma. Today, more and more dental professionals are offering diabetes testing right in their offices. Often, patients learn of their prediabetes/diabetic situation for the first time. A study in Amsterdam indicated that patients with advanced gum disease were unaware or unprepared for a diabetes diagnosis – 10 percent had full Type 2 diabetes.

An easy finger stick and glucose test could be life changing for many dental patients. Don’t be surprised if sometime in the near future, your dentist or periodontist offers you this test.