I’ve been established with a dentist in Elgin for several years, but I haven’tbeen able to convince my husband to go in. I recently read something about howthere’s a link between gum disease and diabetes, but I don’t understand how thetwo are linked. He does have a diabetes diagnosis and takes daily medicationfor it. He’s actually really good about managing it and watching his sugars. I’mhopeful that if I can explain to him exactly how the link works, I can get himon board with at least going in for a cleaning and checkup. Are there any straightforwardresources on this?
This is a great question! You’re spot on. Diabetes is one ofmany reasons why it’s important to get on a regular schedule with your Elgindentist and stay on it.
According to data compiled by the American Dental Hygienists’Association (ADHA),95% of those diagnosed with diabetes also have periodontal disease. The inverseis also true. Another studyindicated that people with periodontal disease have diabetes 93% of the time.While severe periodontal disease is prevalent, research showsit only impacts 10-15% of the population. The same is true of diabetes, whichthe CDC reportsimpacts 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 twoconditions weren’t linked, we’d see roughly 10% of diabetics with gum diseaseand only 10% of gum disease would have diabetes, in accordance with prevalencein the general population. We don’t. Virtually all people with diabetes havegum disease and virtually all people with gum disease have diabetes.
Given these high rates, many dentists will refer you back toyour primary care physician for diabetes testing if periodontal disease isdetected at your visit. Primary care physicians will refer you back to yourdentist if you’re diagnosed with diabetes too. Ergo, chances are your husband’sdoctor has already mentioned he should see his dentist, but things happen andit’s possible that’s not their protocol or your husband was overwhelmed with informationwhen he was advised to go in for a checkup. That’s ok. It’s a life-changing diagnosis.
Although these two conditions are linked, researchers don’tknow which comes first. It’s entirely possible the same conditions contributeto 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 fightinfections and infections cause blood sugar to spike. At the same time,diabetes can cause blood vessels to thicken. That means they cannot transportoxygen and nutrients well, nor can they transport toxins away. This diminishes oralhealth and can increase infection risk. Meanwhile, the bacteria in the diabetic’smouth is feasting away on the excess sugar, which also increases the risk ofinfection and tooth decay.
If your husband is successfully managing his diabetes withmedication, he’s won half the battle. However, it’s essential that he getchecked for periodontal disease and be treated if he has it. If he doesn’t, hisdiabetes could worsen. Furthermore, his teeth, gums, and jaw bone are at risk due tothe periodontal disease.
Many health conditions are correlated with periodontaldisease. For example, heart disease, oral cancer, and respiratory ailments aretoo. Other conditions, such as osteoporosis and even HIV can have oral symptomstoo. So, a visit to your dental office can genuinely safeguard your wholehealth.
Oftentimes, people who put off dental treatment like your husbandhas been are actually suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobias. Theseare actually quite common! If so, and your dental office doesn’t offer higherlevels of care, you may have trouble getting your husband to go in. Search foran office which “caters to cowards” or specifically helps those withdental anxiety. He might find it easier to book and follow through if heknows they’ll go at his speed and offer things like nitrous oxide to keep him comfortableduring the appointment.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin, an Elgin dentistwho offers preventative and restorative care for the whole family—even thosewho would like a little help overcoming their anxiety.