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Periodontal Diseases

Periodontal diseases can be classified as infections that affect the bone that holds the teeth in place, as well as the gums. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to the amount of time when the body must function with high levels of blood sugar. This increases the risk to diabetic complications, making it vital that diabetics with periodontal disease treat and eliminate the infection.

The link between diabetes and gum disease stems from poor blood circulation, which is one of the major risks for diabetics. The disease slows circulation and reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which puts those struggling with it at greater risk for periodontal infections. When a body suffers from diabetes, blood vessel structure is altered. This will affect and lower blood flow, which then weakens the bone and the gums, leaving them prone to infection.

On top of that, high glucose levels in saliva promote growth of bacteria that contribute to gum problems, as higher levels of glucose may be present in mouth fluids. In fact, those diabetics who are also smokers are far more likely to struggle with all types of mouth disease. All of this will contribute to the growth of bacteria that cause diseases.

Whether you’re diabetic or not, it’s important to know the symptoms of gum disease. Here’s a partial list:

• Swollen gums that tend to bleed easily, especially when stimulated by brushing or flossing
• Gums separating from teeth
• Loose teeth
• Frequent bad breath
• A change in the way teeth fit together, or the way partials or dentures fit
• Swollen, red and tender gums

A few tips on how to prevent gum disease, particularly if you are a diabetic:

• Maintain control over your blood sugar levels
• If you smoke, kick the habit
• Stick with your regular dental check-up and cleaning schedule
• Brush and floss every day
• Eat a healthy diet

A good dental health program including regular brushing and flossing will go a long way to prevent dental problems associated with diabetes. Doing all the things that keep your diabetes in check, such as maintaining a proper diet and exercise program will help manage your blood sugar and reduce the risk of periodontitis. Finally, if you are managing diabetes, at your next dental appointment be sure to let them know so they may check for any signs of early gum disease. If diagnosed in the early stages, known as gingivitis, it can be treated and reversed. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage, called periodontitis may follow, which includes irreversible bone loss.

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