I’ve been established with a dentist in Elgin for several years, but I haven’t been able to convince my husband to go in. I recently read something about how there’s a link between gum disease and diabetes, but I don’t understand how the two are linked. He does have a diabetes diagnosis and takes daily medication for it. He’s actually really good about managing it and watching his sugars. I’m hopeful that if I can explain to him exactly how the link works, I can get him on board with at least going in for a cleaning and checkup. Are there any straightforward resources on this?
This is a great question! You’re spot on. Diabetes is one of many reasons why it’s important to get on a regular schedule with your Elgin dentist and stay on it.
Diabetes and periodontal disease are linked.
According to data compiled by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), 95% of those diagnosed with diabetes also have periodontal disease. The inverse is also true. Another study indicated that people with periodontal disease have diabetes 93% of the time. While severe periodontal disease is prevalent, research shows it only impacts 10-15% of the population. The same is true of diabetes, which the CDC reports impacts slightly less than 10% of the population.
True, 10% of the population is nothing to shake a stick at. That’s more than 100 million people in the United States. However, if the two conditions weren’t linked, we’d see roughly 10% of diabetics with gum disease and only 10% of gum disease would have diabetes, in accordance with prevalence in the general population. We don’t. Virtually all people with diabetes have gum disease and virtually all people with gum disease have diabetes.
Given these high rates, many dentists will refer you back to your primary care physician for diabetes testing if periodontal disease is detected at your visit. Primary care physicians will refer you back to your dentist if you’re diagnosed with diabetes too. Ergo, chances are your husband’s doctor has already mentioned he should see his dentist, but things happen and it’s possible that’s not their protocol or your husband was overwhelmed with information when he was advised to go in for a checkup. That’s ok. It’s a life-changing diagnosis.
Researchers don’t know which comes first; diabetes or periodontal disease.
Although these two conditions are linked, researchers don’t know which comes first. It’s entirely possible the same conditions contribute to both or that the conditions come together to create the perfect storm, building upon one another.
At a very basic level, periodontal disease is an infection. As you and your husband probably know, high blood sugar makes it hard to fight infections and infections cause blood sugar to spike. At the same time, diabetes can cause blood vessels to thicken. That means they cannot transport oxygen and nutrients well, nor can they transport toxins away. This diminishes oral health and can increase infection risk. Meanwhile, the bacteria in the diabetic’s mouth is feasting away on the excess sugar, which also increases the risk of infection and tooth decay.
Diabetes and gum disease must be treated together.
If your husband is successfully managing his diabetes with medication, he’s won half the battle. However, it’s essential that he get checked for periodontal disease and be treated if he has it. If he doesn’t, his diabetes could worsen. Furthermore, his teeth, gums, and jaw bone are at risk due to the periodontal disease.
Diabetes isn’t the only reason to have a periodontal screening.
Many health conditions are correlated with periodontal disease. For example, heart disease, oral cancer, and respiratory ailments are too. Other conditions, such as osteoporosis and even HIV can have oral symptoms too. So, a visit to your dental office can genuinely safeguard your whole health.
Find an Elgin dentist who caters to cowards if dental anxiety is preventing you from getting care.
Oftentimes, people who put off dental treatment like your husband has been are actually suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobias. These are actually quite common! If so, and your dental office doesn’t offer higher levels of care, you may have trouble getting your husband to go in. Search for an office which “caters to cowards” or specifically helps those with dental anxiety. He might find it easier to book and follow through if he knows they’ll go at his speed and offer things like nitrous oxide to keep him comfortable during the appointment.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, an Elgin dentist who offers preventative and restorative care for the whole family—even those who would like a little help overcoming their anxiety.