The following article first appeared in Chinese in the April 19th, 2014 issue of the Lianhe Wanbao newspaper. For the benefit of those who missed the article, or who cannot access the publication in Chinese, we have summarized the content of the article below.
There is an interesting correlation between diabetes and periodontal (gum) disease – Type II Diabetic patients tend to present with gum disease with longer healing period, where the gum becomes inflamed and left untreated, blood sugar levels may become uncontrollable.
Published in 2008, the American Academy of Periodontology pointed out that approximately 95 percent of Americans who suffered from diabetes also had periodontal disease. Among those, almost 1/3 suffered from severe periodontal disease with loss of attachment of the gums to the teeth.
The report showed that people with periodontal disease have greater difficulty controlling blood sugar levels and that severe periodontal disease also can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Gum disease is far more common in diabetics compared with non-diabetics, due to the higher possibility and longer healing period of gum infection. For type II diabetic patients with unresolved gum disease, the products of gum inflammation can get into the blood vessels in the gingiva, affecting the control of their blood glucose level due to insulin resistance, resulting in higher blood sugar levels.
Dr Ho states that diabetes may be genetic, so if one has family members with a history of diabetes, one should take extra precaution to monitor the health of their gums and schedule for regular dental checkups to prevent or delay the onset and severity of diabetes.
“When a diabetic patient seeks treatment for their oral issues but do not respond to normal dental treatment and medication, it can be a sign of oral manifestations in the form of infections, bleeding or swollen gums, which can be picked up by the dentist as tell-tale signs. It is important then for the patient to see their respective attending medical doctor to get their diabetes under control. Otherwise, existing oral infections will not be resolved,” says Dr Ho.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission