Have Diabetes? A Dentist May Be One of Your Best Allies in Fighting the Disease

Have your teeth checked if you have diabetes.

This statement might seem incongruous, but the truth is that diabetes and dental health are fundamentally linked. Fighting the disease can be as much about keeping blood sugar under control as it is about undergoing treatments from the nearest dentist around Horseheads, NY.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is an incurable but manageable disease that leaves the body unable to produce or properly use insulin – a hormone that helps convert sugar and other substances into energy. With improper insulin levels, a person does not get the right amount of fuel the body needs to function correctly; one’s blood sugar levels also remain imbalanced, and one’s resistance to infections becomes reduced.

How About That Sweet Tooth? Getting Your Dentist to Help with Diabetes

Because of these, diabetics are susceptible to contracting problems in the heart, kidney, and eyes – as well as the teeth and gums through periodontal disease.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease refers to the bacterial infection that attacks the gums, bones, and ligaments supporting a person’s teeth. It stems from the toxic bacteria in plaque – the sticky film that inevitably forms on teeth above the gum line. Left uncleaned, plaque inflames the gums, leading to gingivitis; left untreated, gingivitis can worsen into periodontal disease.

Its symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen, and bleeding gums
  • Exposed teeth roots
  • Yellowish plaque deposits
  • Tenderness and pus in the gum area
  • Bad breath

Since diabetes weakens the body’s ability to resist and recover from infections, diabetics are three or four times more likely to develop periodontal disease. They suffer it in ways more severe than non-diabetics, and tend to experience additional problems, including:

  • Burning mouth syndrome (a sudden feeling of the mouth being scalded)
  • Oral candidiasis (a fungal infection manifesting in white lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks)
  • Dry mouth (a condition resulting from decreased saliva, which helps fight tooth decay)

Most importantly, the body’s responses to periodontal disease make it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar level. This makes treating both diseases together even more important – if one or the other can’t be prevented at all.

What can your dentist do for you?

Fortunately, research has shown that that regular periodontal therapy improves metabolic control among diabetics; patients who undergo traditional treatments to remove bacteria on teeth apparently cut down blood sugar by as much as 20%. This has led scholars to suggest that dentists, indeed, can help normalize diabetics’ sugar levels and reduce their risks for different complications.

There are several options for periodontal treatment, depending on its severity:

  • Scaling and root planing – The method scholars found valuable in controlling diabetes, this is also the best preventive measure against periodontal disease. It entails scraping off bacteria and toxins from the roots of the teeth and gum pockets, then smoothing out the root surfaces to make it harder for plaque to re-accumulate.
  • Surgical pocket elimination – This can accomplish the task of scaling and root planing when bacteria build-up is already advanced.
  • Dental implants and tissue regeneration – These options are used once periodontal disease has already knocked out a two or two. Weak gums, however, might compromise their effectiveness.

What can you do to address both diseases?

As you face both diabetes and gum disease, the best thing to do is keep your diet and habits as healthy as possible. Continue observing the medication and nutritional guidelines given by your physician, and keep maintaining an ideal routine for oral hygiene. Visit both doctor and dentist regularly, and keep them updated of each other’s assessments and advice.

And, as you take care of yourself, just remember that a dentist near you in Horseheads, NY can be your best ally in keeping your sweet tooth a healthy one.


Periodontal Therapy May Help Diabetes Sugar Control, Colgate.com

Diabetes and Oral Health, Colgate.com

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health? KnowYourTeeth.com