If you’ve been to the dentist recently, you may have noticed your dental hygienist test you for periodontal disease with a probe. This is a painless test that checks the pockets between your teeth for evidence of receding gums or inflammation that could be signs of gum disease.
You may have also heard about the link between periodontal disease and diabetes. Especially if you have diabetes, it’s important to understand the increased risks for periodontal disease and, in turn, how having periodontal disease could worsen the effects of diabetes.
This article will shed light on the connection between periodontal disease and diabetes while also elaborating on what periodontal disease is, its causes, and common treatment options.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also commonly referred to as gum disease, affects your gums and the tissue that holds your teeth together, specifically the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.
When plaque builds up as a result of bacteria and microorganisms forming in your mouth from food and other particles, it can also cause tartar buildup that sticks to the teeth and the surrounding tissue. Though plaque can often be removed by regular brushing and flossing, only a dental hygienist or professional can remove tartar from the teeth and gums.
Periodontal disease is very common, affecting 10 to 15 percent of adults, and can negatively affect the quality of life of those who get the disease. That’s why it’s important to understand the causes and the increased risk of periodontal disease for people with diabetes.
Causes/Link to Diabetes
While the causes of periodontal disease can vary and are often related to a lack of regular brushing and flossing, people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease.
In fact, the link between periodontal disease and diabetes actually goes both ways. First, people with diabetes are more susceptible to infection and inflammation, especially of the periodontal tissue, and thus are three times more likely to get periodontal disease. In addition, though, periodontal disease can affect the ability of those with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.
Severe periodontal disease can actually increase blood sugar levels, which increase the risk for people with diabetes to experience complications as a result of their condition.
Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease
Symptoms of periodontal disease include: red or swollen gums, gum tenderness or bleeding, persistent bad breath, pain while chewing, sensitive or loose teeth, and receding gums. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should schedule a visit with your dentist to check for periodontal disease.
Your dental hygienist can diagnose periodontal disease at your dental visit by examining your gums and noting any signs of these symptoms.
When you experience a hygienist use a tiny probe in your mouth between each of your teeth, the hygienist is checking for any unusually deep pockets around your teeth. When your gums are healthy, these pockets should remain between one and three millimeters, so if they are any deeper, it may be a sign of gum disease. This test is usually painless and an important way for a hygienist to determine whether or not you might have periodontal disease.
Dental hygienists may also take an x-ray to check for bone loss or refer you to a periodontist, an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease who would be able to provide you with specific treatment options that your dentist might not offer.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on the severity of the condition but always requires patients to get a thorough cleaning to rid the gums of any tartar and bacteria and then to take good care of their dental hygiene at home. Dentists also often suggest that patients modify behavior to control the infection in their gums, like quitting smoking.
For some cases, patients may be prescribed medications, including antibiotics. In very severe cases, patients may need surgery to repair the damage from periodontal disease.
However, the best option is to avoid periodontal disease with regular brushing and flossing and regular visits to your dentist for deep cleaning of the teeth and surrounding tissue.
*For more detailed information about periodontal disease and the link between the disease and diabetes, take a look at the study Periodontitis and diabetes: a two-way relationship in the journal Diabetologia.Leave a reply →