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Understanding the Link Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

It may seem odd to read a dental blog about diabetes, but it makes sense when you consider the connection between diabetes and oral health. 

Researchers have long known about the link between diabetes and periodontitis, and one study estimates that over 95% of people with diabetes have some degree of gum disease. 

At St. Tammany Periodontics & Implants, Dr. Caesar Sweidan and Dr. Laura Smith strive to arm their patients with the most advanced treatments to prevent and resolve periodontal disease. But their patients with diabetes need extra monitoring and care. 

Here, we highlight the connection between these two conditions.

Brushing up on diabetes

Diabetes occurs when your body has trouble making or processing insulin. Your pancreas makes the hormone insulin to enable the sugar or glucose in your blood to enter your cells. If you don't have enough insulin or your body resists it, the sugar in your blood elevates to dangerous levels. 

High blood sugar wreaks havoc on your body, causing an avalanche of problems, from vision and heart issues to nerve and kidney damage.

One of the lesser-known diabetes-related problems is periodontal disease.

What does diabetes have to do with gum health?

Uncontrolled diabetes and high blood sugar change your blood vessels. In some cases, they become thin and brittle. In others, they thicken and slow down your blood flow. Both are bad news for your oral health.

Reduced blood flow weakens your gum tissue and the supporting bones, making them more vulnerable to infections. 

The bad news is that periodontal disease and diabetes have a bidirectional relationship. That is to say that not only does diabetes endanger your oral health, but having gum disease also puts you at a higher risk for developing diabetes. 

High blood sugar can also cause dry mouth, which creates an ideal environment for cavities and gum disease. 

Finally, diabetes significantly reduces your body’s ability to fight off bacteria, so it's harder to overcome once they set up camp in your gums.

Signs you may have periodontal disease

Whether you have diabetes or not, the signs of periodontal disease are the same:

Tooth loss is often a telltale sign of gum disease, as the compromised gum tissue can’t hold onto the teeth, so they loosen and fall out. 

How we treat periodontal disease

How we treat periodontal disease depends on the severity of the problem.

Deep cleaning

We can often clear up gum disease in the early stages with a deep and thorough professional cleaning.

If you need next-level cleaning, we may perform scaling and root planing to remove plaque from your tooth roots.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy replaces traditional tools and scalpels with the power of light energy to quickly and safely eliminate deep-down plaque and tartar with less bleeding, higher sterility, and no stitches. These advantages are particularly beneficial if you have diabetes.

Removing Teeth

If periodontal disease has invaded your tooth and root tissue severely, and we can’t save the tooth, we may recommend removing the tooth.

Sometimes, the infection and removal compromise the integrity of the surrounding support structures. For example, one of your upper molars may cause your sinuses to drop. In this case, we perform a sinus lift to shore up the area.  

Computer-guided implants

If you’ve lost a tooth or had one removed due to periodontal disease, you need to get it replaced to save your oral health. Since dental implants are our specialty, you’ve come to the right place.   

We use the most advanced technology, including:

If you have diabetes and see signs of periodontal disease, don’t wait. Call or click to request an appointment at St. Tammany Periodontics & Implants in Slidell and Covington, Louisiana.  

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