‘The Vicious Cycle’
Gum disease begins when there is accumulation of microorganisms including bacteria around your teeth forming plaque. This plaque irritates your gums and starts off inflammation (gingivitis) which manifests with reddening, swelling and sometimes bleeding of the gums especially seen when brushing.
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that can be reversible with professional cleaning in a procedure called scaling and polishing performed by your dentist. Left unchecked, gingivitis will progress into a severe form of gum disease called periodontitis, where the gums start to pull away from the teeth (gum recession) and destruction of the tissues holding the teeth in place resulting into teeth mobility and eventually teeth loss. Periodontitis may also involve destruction of the jaw bone. Your dentist at this point will team up with a gum specialist (periodontist) to manage this condition.
Diabetes which is a chronic disease that affects how the body processes sugar will cause high blood sugar when not controlled. High blood sugar slows down the body’s ability heal and repair so that once the inflammation and disease process in gum diseases is started, it will progress faster to the point of teeth loss from periodontitis. On the other hand chronic inflammation from gum disease will also keep the body in a subtle state of stress causing among other things a rise in blood sugar levels and for diabetic patients this could mean you fail to regulate and control your blood sugar levels.
Studies show that periodontal treatment prevents complications, improves sugar control and reduces treatment costs in diabetics; so it is not only important for oral health but may also improve general health (Genco, Graziani et al. 2020).
It is therefore imperative for a diabetic patient to prevent the onset of gum disease by maintaining good oral hygiene through habits like brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly and visiting your dentist at least every six months for oral checkup and cleaning to prevent buildup of plaque. You should also strictly adhere to the management of diabetes by your physician.