Patient Education:

Article

 
Diabetes and Oral Health


During the past 10 years, much research has been undertaken on the link between diabetes and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the sixth leading complication of diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop periodontal disease, with a higher rate of more severe levels of bone loss and gum infection.1


What Is Diabetes? Diabetes is a serious disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches, and other foods into energy. Normally, insulin helps get sugar from the blood to the body's cells, where it is used for energy. When you have diabetes, your body has trouble making and/or using insulin, so your body does not get the fuel it needs and your blood sugar stays too high. High blood sugar sets off processes that can lead to complications, such as heart, kidney, and eye disease, or other serious problems.2,3


Are There Different Types of Diabetes? It is estimated that more than 20 million adults and children in the United States have some form of diabetes–14 million having been diagnosed with the disease and 6 million being unaware they have it. There are different types of the disease: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, as well as prediabetes. Most Americans (around 90%) who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.2,3


What Is Periodontal Disease? Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums, ligaments, and bone that support your teeth and hold them in the jaw. If left untreated, you may experience tooth loss. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless microbial film that constantly forms on your teeth. Toxins (or poisons) produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums, causing infection.4


IMPORTANT: Physicians and Dentists Need to Work Together


It is important that your dentist be kept up-to-date on your diabetic condition and treatment and that your physician be kept up-to-date on your oral condition and treatment, so that they can work together to help you control your diabetes and prevent or control periodontal disease.1


Keep your dentist up-to-date on your diabetic condition and your physician up-to-date on your oral condition.


If your diabetic condition is well controlled, periodontal treatment would be the same for you as for a patient without diabetes. In early stages, treatment usually involves removing the plaque and calculus from the pockets around your teeth. If the periodontal disease is more severe or if your diabetes is not well controlled, treatment will be more specialized and tailored toward your specific condition. Your dentist may recommend more frequent oral prophylaxes (dental cleanings) involving scaling and root planing or may recommend periodontal surgery.1


Disclaimer


The content of this guide is for information purposes only. It does not substitute for the dentist's professional assessment based on the individual patient's case.

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