Connection Between Diabetes and Oral Health

Philadelphia dental implants expert Dr. David DiGiallorenzo beefed up efforts to teach diabetic patients and those with gum disease about the oral health/diabetes connection in November.

This connection is a two-way street, according to some research on the topic, said DiGiallorenzo, who treats patients with diabetes at his Philadelphia, periodontics practice.

Gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to increase and aid in the progression of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetics have a higher risk of encountering serious gum disease because they tend to be more prone to bacterial infection.

The International Diabetes Federation has recommendations relative to the importance of periodontal health for diabetics. The recommendations support the notion that managing gum disease can lower the risk of developing diabetes and can help people who have diabetes better control their blood sugar levels.

The IDF guideline also details information for health professionals who treat diabetic patients and those who are at risk of developing it.

“I am in agreement with the IDF guidelines, which encourage health professionals to screen patients annually for signs of gum disease,” said DiGiallorenzo. “We all need to make an effort to prevent gum disease by caring for our teeth and gums, but this is especially important for diabetics.”

Gum disease triggers the body’s inflammatory response, which can affect insulin sensitivity and eventually increase blood sugar levels, said Dr. Samuel Low, an associate dean and professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

An estimated 285 million people are affected by diabetes worldwide, according to information posted on the American Academy of Periodontology Web site.