Diabetes is a disease that effects about 26 million people, or a little over 8% of the U.S. population in various forms of the disease. Left untreated is will eventually cause a multitude of health problems that can eventually lead to an early death. As studies have found, though, one way to help combat diabetes is by maintaining good oral health:
Insulin is a critically important hormone that helps turn sugars (carbohydrates) into energy that can be used by the body’s cells. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body does not respond normally to the insulin that is produced, a condition known as diabetes develops. High levels of sugar accumulate in the blood, which can have increasingly serious health consequences primarily affecting blood vessels and therefore many systems of the body.
Studies have found evidence to support a clear association between diabetes and periodontal disease. One common factor they share is inflammation. This is normally a protective reaction but in this case it is not; on the contrary, it can make both conditions worse. For example, poorly controlled diabetic patients appear more susceptible to infectious diseases, including periodontal disease. Additionally, they have an exaggerated inflammatory response to the bacteria that produce periodontitis. Evidence also suggests that uncontrolled periodontitis can worsen blood sugar levels. The good news is that treatment of periodontal disease, by and large, has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar control, which is how doctors measure diabetes treatment effectiveness. For example, a 2012 joint European-American periodontal workshop found that basic mechanical periodontal therapy (good oral hygiene and professional cleaning) improved blood sugar control to the same extent that adding a second drug would have.
If you have diabetes or know someone who does, you might want to consider passing along this information. Regular dental care with the focus of avoiding periodontal disease is one way to help check this disease. If you have any questions about diabetes and good oral health, please don’t hesitate to ask.