Diabetics Wise To Give Oral Health Added Attention

Posted on Mar 13, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that occurs when the body is unable to properly process carbohydrates, fats and proteins.. It stems from insufficient insulin secretion or being resistant to insulin.

The American Diabetes Association reports these statistics among adults in the U.S. (http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/):

  • Over 9 percent of the population have diabetes.
  • For Americans over the age of 65, more than 26% are either diagnosed diabetics or undiagnosed with diabetes.
  • 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes is a leading cause of death due to the vascular complications it causes. The most common types of diabetes are type 1, which requires insulin control, and Type 2, which is the non-insulin dependent form.

Diabetes is far from being a problem isolated to the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared diabetes to be at a pandemic level with a prevalence that has risen dramatically over recent decades. They estimate that the number of those affected by diabetes will triple over the next decade.

Regardless of the advancements in treating diabetes, the U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health reports that it is “a growing public health concern and a common chronic metabolic disease worldwide.”

Although diabetes affects all age groups, it is most common in adults. According to the American Diabetes Association, the largest segment of those who suffer with diabetics have Type 2 diabetes, which usually begins after age 45. However, over 18,000 youth are diagnosed with diabetes each year.

In a study study published in the journal Diabetes Care, the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) noted that the annual medical expenses for youth with diabetes to be over $9,000, compared to less than $1,500 per year for youth without the disease.

Early warning signs of Type 2 diabetes are bad breath and bleeding gums, which are also symptoms of gum disease. Gum disease has been found to be more frequent and severe for patients who have poor control of their diabetes. By properly controlling glucose levels, diabetics can greatly help in the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss. Well-controlled glucose levels also help when it comes to the successful treatment of gum disease.

For many years, the medical and scientific fields studied the connections between inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and periodontal disease. With gum disease being the sixth greatest complication of diabetes, they noted that diabetes would initially reveal symptoms in the form of oral problems. However, continued research has shown that one can even trigger the other.

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that can create inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This is because its bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. As it travels throughout the body, it can cause inflammatory triggers elsewhere.

Because of the connections between diabetes and periodontal disease, diabetics are strongly urged to have dental exams every 3-4 months (versus the standard of every 6 months) to avoid the inflammatory reactions of gum disease, and vice versa. Diabetics should also respond to any signs of gum disease promptly, rather than wait for their next visit.

Symptoms of periodontal disease include gum tenderness, bleeding gums when brushing, frequent bad breath, receding gums and gums that darken in color. When these signs are present, seeing a Periodontal specialist is advised so the most appropriate treatment can be discussed.

Because diabetics have a greater vulnerability to inflammatory reactions in the body, the need for prompt treatment warrants immediate response. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange an appointment. And remember, gum disease only worsens without treatment, resulting in greater treatment time and expense with delays.

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