Diabetics Need To Manage Their Mouth

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By P. Piero D.D.S.

diabeteswordTwenty four million Americans have diabetes. That’s about 8% of the population. A person with diabetes will have malfunctioning insulin production resulting in high levels of blood sugar. Organs become exhausted because, the individual’s pancreas can no longer put out sufficient insulin to lower the blood sugar.

A hormonal feedback mechanism controls the pancreas. However, acute and/or chronic infections create hormonal chaos in the body. Unfortunately periodontal disease is a chronic infection that provokes a lot of chaos. And it is the most widespread infectious disease on the planet, so chances are the diabetic is dealing with that as well.

One of the things that aid gum disease is sugar. The presence of sugar in the mouth feed the bacteria that lead to periodontal disease. Diabetics have compromised blood vessels. The vessels thicken and slow the delivery of oxygen to the extremities as well as slow the removal of waste from these tissues. This also lowers the body’s defenses to infection, including periodontal infection.

Current research shows that there is a between periodontal disease and diabetes. The Dentistry Today publication reported that those with diabetes have more severe periodontal issues and those with the oral disease have a more difficult time controlling their diabetes. The link is found in both adults and children. In addition, the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University Medical Center reports that 50 percent of children have periodontal disease. It is crucial that children with diabetes receive regular oral checkups because the symptoms of periodontal disease are often not noticeable until the disease is advanced. A dentist can diagnose the disease in the early stages, prior to parents realizing their children have it.

diabeticA study at the School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo found that obesity is significantly related to periodontal disease through the pathway of insulin resistance. Sara Grossi, director of the UB Periodontal Disease Research Center and lead author of the study said, “Now we see a relationship between obesity, insulin resistance and periodontal disease in a large, population-based cohort. This relationship is significant because obesity is an important risk factor for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.” (http://www.sdm.buffalo.edu/news/20000408_obesity.html)

Those diabetics with periodontal disease should be treated for the periodontal infection. Not only is treating the periodontal disease good for the health of the diabetic, it also can save money. A three year study showed that the medical costs for those with diabetes were reduced by $2500 when their gum disease was treated compared to those who did not treat their oral infection. This study looked at medical claims for patients with diabetes and periodontal disease.

Today, adults and children with diabetes have a better chance of keeping this disease under control. Besides diet, it also takes diligence and thoroughness in oral health.

– Dr. Piero, a practicing dentist for over twenty five years, is the inventor of Dental Air Force. Articles published are on periodontal health related to heart disease, respiratory health, diabetes, strokes, and other systemic diseases. He is the Executive Editor for Journal of Experimental Dental Science, a contributing author to Hospital Infection Control: Clinical Guidelines and soon-to-be published book, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.