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Frequently Asked Questions about Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Dr. Susan Pan of Excel Dental in Hamilton Ontario answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Periodontal Disease and its link to Diabetes:

  1. How can I tell if I have Periodontal Disease?
  • The leading warning sign of Periodontal Disease is bleeding gums while brushing or flossing, which is not considered normal. Other indications of Periodontal Disease include bad breath, puffy or receding gums, loose teeth, or a change in your bite. Periodontal Disease is quite common, with studies showing that it is present to some degree in almost 50 percent of Americans aged 30 years or older.
  1. What is the connection between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes?
  • Patients with uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes have a higher incidence of Periodontal Disease and a greater severity of the condition. There also seems to be a two-way link; Periodontal Disease makes blood sugar stabilization more difficult for diabetics, which increases cardiovascular risk. Unstable blood sugar in diabetics also fuels periodontal infections, making it more difficult to stabilize the disease. Studies suggest that 80% of all diabetics die from heart attack or stroke.
  1. What should I do if I have Periodontal Disease?
  • Anyone with Periodontal Disease should be screened for diabetes. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association advises screening for everyone aged 40 or older. If other risk factors such as obesity or a family history of diabetes are present, your healthcare provider may advise screening at a younger age.
  1. What can my dentist do to reduce my risk of Periodontal Disease?
  • To keep your gums and supporting bone healthy, consult your dentist about appropriate home care and an effective schedule of dental cleanings. Your dentist may also recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash or oral antibiotics. Additionally, your dentist may recommend salivary testing to check for certain oral bacteria and to assess inflammatory and genetic risks. Your dentist may also be able to order a laboratory blood test to screen for diabetes or use a simple in-office screening test that requires a small drop of blood and produces a result in just minutes. Your dentist may also recommend that you purchase a small, inexpensive blood sugar meter (glucometer) and record some daily blood sugar readings at home.

Periodontal Disease is a bacterial infection of the gums (“Gingivitis”) and bone (“Periodontitis”) that support your teeth. When Periodontal Disease is present, your body undergoes an inflammatory process in an attempt to protect and heal the affected tissues. This inflammation may have an impact on a systemic condition such as diabetes.

Also, Holistic Dentistry approach, which considers the patient’s overall health and wellness, may also be beneficial for individuals with periodontal disease and diabetes. It includes the use of natural and non-toxic materials and the integration of various therapies such as nutrition and stress management to achieve optimal oral and overall health.

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