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Gum Disease and Diabetes—A Reciprocal Relationship

Gum Disease and Diabetes QueensIn the medical field there are a surprising number of diseases and symptoms out there that share a peculiar relationship to one another. A symptom that occurs as a result of one disease may also conversely play the role of the disease (causing a symptom) in another patient. Two such diseases, diabetes and gum disease, are a primary example of this type of relationship. The fact that such relationships occur in the treatment of diseases can often make treatment more difficult. As a result, a great deal of emphasis must be placed on the understanding and prevention of both diabetes and gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a general term for infections that are found in the gums, and can affect the surrounding teeth and bone structures as well. One example of gum disease, gingivitis, is the least serious and most common variant. If gingivitis is left unchecked it may develop into periodontal disease, which can become much more problematic and much more difficult to treat. So, what are the signs and symptoms of gum disease? In its early stages, gingivitis can be nearly undetectable if you don’t know what to look for. The most common gum disease symptoms are red swollen gums and bleeding gums when gingivitis is present. The discomfort caused by swollen gums is often difficult to detect for the patient, so the appearance of blood outside the gum line is one of the only gum disease symptoms patients will notice in its early stages. When left untreated, gingivitis can transform into periodontal disease, which will require much more drastic treatment methods and immediacy. What causes gum disease? Bacteria introduced by gingivitis can spread beneath the gum line, and produce toxins that irritate the gums. This causes your immune system to initiate an inflammatory response to correct the issue by turning on the cells in your mouth and destroying the gum tissues and bone material that support your teeth. For this reason, it is important to keep a look out for the signs and symptoms of gum disease. Not just for your oral health, but for your overall health as well.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when your insulin levels are not properly regulated by your body. When you ingest food, your body eventually turns it into sugars, also known as glucose. From there the pancreas releases insulin to initiate the opening of your cells which allows glucose to enter. Once glucose has entered the cells, it then becomes available for your body to use as energy. The two most common types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is the more severe type, because its treatment is dependent on supplemental insulin from an outside source. It is often dubbed “juvenile diabetes” because it tends to develop in children and teenagers. With Type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing cells within the pancreas become foreign to the body’s immune system. This causes and autoimmune response to turn on and attack them. With no insulin being produced, your body’s cells starve from lack of glucose. If left untreated, the high level of blood sugar can damage the kidneys, eyes, nerves, and heart, and can even be fatal. Type 2 diabetes is not insulin dependent, however. It typically develops in those who are age 35 or older. People with type 2 diabetes are able to make their own insulin, however not a sufficient amount of it. The insulin attempts to open the cells (like normal functioning inulin), but eventually the cells resist. This causes what is called “insulin resistance”. There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to prevent diabetes, which include: lose body fat, eat a plant-based low calorie diet, drink lots of water, reduce your stress, sleep well, and keep all your medical checkup appointments.

How Are Gum Disease and Diabetes Related?

According to a 2012 article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, diabetes and gum disease share a reciprocal relationship. Many oral bacteria thrive on glucose, the sugar linked to diabetes. High glucose levels in the mouth (from diabetes) can result in an excess of glucose-thriving bacteria, thus making it more difficult to for your immune system to fight off gingivitis. Conversely, the complications that arise from gum disease may also lead to diabetes. As we mentioned earlier, a patient suffering from diabetes has poor pancreatic function in relation to insulin production. Recently, studies have found a link between poor gum health and increased risk for pancreatic cancer. When the pancreas is under attack from cancerous cells, it is much more susceptible to improper functioning. This can lead to poor insulin levels or insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes.

Gum Disease Treatment for Diabetics in Forest Hills, NY

If you notice signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, such as red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums, schedule an appointment with our office in Queens, NY immediately, as these may be early indicators of advanced gum disease. With our advanced, laser gum disease therapy treatments, we are able to non-invasively target and remove harmful bacteria, while stimulating healthy, beneficial growth of tissue and bone.

Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued.

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