We have long known that there is a link between diabetes and gum disease, but which comes first? Can controlling periodontal disease help reduce the risk of diabetes? The answer: Possibly YES!
Normal healthyy gum tissue is pink, not red. Healthy gums do not bleed during usual dental care. Gingivitis, or inflamed gums, is caused by bacteria in plaque. In this mild form, it is curable. But if left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can develop where gaps form between the teeth and gums. These gaps trap bacteria, which multiply rapidly in the mouth, and further destroy the bone holding the teeth in place. In the most serious cases, the bone dissolves and the teeth cannot be saved.
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are nearly 60 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Many of these people will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Periodontal diseases of the gums and bony tissues of the mouth may allow pre-diabetes to progress. The gaps or pockets between the teeth and gums become infected, releasing natural toxins called cytokines. Cytokines may play a role in damaging the pancreas and disturbing sugar metabolism.
Scientists from Denmark and the Unites States have observed in animals and humans that periodontal diseases can disturb the glucose (sugar) regulation of a non-diabetic who has pre-diabetic characteristics, thus contributing to the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
According to Dr. Preston D. Miller, Jr., President of the American Academy of Periodontology, “These findings underscore the importance of taking good care of your teeth and gums: it may be a simple way to prevent diabetes, or to prevent the progression of diabetes.”