People who have diabetes often suffer health problems with their eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. But less known is the increased risk they face of periodontal disease. This is the disease of the gums that causes painful and bleeding gums. Conversely, periodontal disease can make it hard to control blood sugar levels, which in turn can aggravate the diabetes.
It is this lack of blood sugar control that makes diabetes sufferers more susceptible to gum disease. Irregularities in blood sugar levels often cause gum disease, and diabetics are far more likely to suffer severe gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss, than non-diabetics. The thickening of blood that is symptomatic of diabetes also means it is harder to carry away the tissues’ waste products from the gums meaning that gum tissues are far more likely to get infected.
Diabetes sufferers who also smoke are at particular risk. Studies show that a diabetic smoker is 20 times more likely to suffer gum disease than someone with neither of these risk factors.
Diabetics are also at greater risk because they are not as able to remove sugars from the mouth. A build up of sugar in the mouth provides the perfect place for bacteria to grow and cause further damage.
Gum disease has two clear stages. Firstly, gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease, which is often represented by inflammation, swelling and irritation of the gums. At this stage it can still be reversed by proper brushing and a good oral hygiene routine. If the infection gets worse it may develop into periodontal disease. This is when plaque develops under the gums fording them away from the teeth. Infection then develops in this space. At this stage it will require treatment from a dental professional.
Treatment takes one of two forms; either plaque removal or more serious periodontal surgery. A West London dentist will be able to perform both procedures relatively easily. Dentists advise regular six-monthly check ups, especially for diabetics to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.