Many healthcare professionals consider the mouth to be the mirror to the rest of the body, and our team at Who Does Your Teeth works hard to ensure that your mouth stays healthy so the rest of you can stay healthy. Over the years, research has shown how periodontal disease, in infection in the mouth, can contribute to many overall health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The correlation between gum disease and other conditions is a delicate one, and Dr. Jeffrey Neal is pleased to offer consultations and treatments for patients to keep their oral health in good condition. For more information and to schedule your consultation with our dentist, please contact us today at 804-447-1435.

Periodontal Disease & Diabetes

Diabetes has become a widely spread disease, affecting more than 18 million people in the U.S.A. and more than 171 million people worldwide. If you have diabetes, you may be aware of the many different complications that may arise as a result of uncontrolled blood sugar. One complication that scientists have become aware of is the relation between uncontrolled blood sugar levels and periodontal disease.

Part of having diabetes means that you are more susceptible to infections, and studies have shown that diabetics who do not control their blood sugar levels are at higher risk for developing periodontal disease. One idea states that diabetics develop periodontal disease due to a thickening of the blood vessels, which is a common diabetic complication. Blood vessels carry oxygen to the body’s soft tissue and carry out harmful waste. If blood vessels become thickened, the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the tissue slows, and so does the removal of harmful waste. This allows bacteria to build up faster inside the mouth and ultimately lead to periodontal disease. Poor control of blood sugar levels also increases the amount of glucose in the mouth, which allows periodontal bacteria to feed and grow at immense rates.

The relation between diabetes and periodontal disease is two-sided. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to an increase in periodontal bacteria, and having periodontal disease can increase your blood sugar and increase the risk of other diabetic complications. The best way for someone with diabetes to avoid or control periodontal disease is to control their blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, our practice wants to help keep your mouth, and thus your whole self, healthy. We recommend following these simple tips when visiting with your dentist:

  • Inform your dentist about how well your diabetes are controlled.
  • Before scheduling a periodontal treatment, visit with your dentist to receive an overall checkup and determine whether you require periodontal treatment.
  • If your blood sugar is not in good control, postpone non-emergency dental treatments. However, acute infections, such as a swelling or pussy area in your gum tissue, should be treated immediately.
  • If you are having oral surgery, your dentist may have you change your meal schedule and the timing of your insulin dosage to fit procedure standards.
  • Healing may take more time after oral surgery, due to the common diabetic complication of slower healing. However, you should have no more trouble than a nondiabetic when you have good dental care and medication.

Periodontal Disease & Heart Disease

While a direct cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven, several studies have indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. Some scientists theorize that inflammation associated with gum disease may be responsible for the association between the two diseases.

In addition to increasing the risk for heart disease, periodontal disease can also worsen existing heart conditions. If you are at risk for infective endocarditis, you may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Be certain to speak with your dentist and your cardiologist to ensure that you receive proper care that takes into account your oral health and your heart condition.

Periodontal Disease & Stroke

Studies have also indicated a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In fact, one of the types of bacteria often associated with periodontal disease can also play a role in strokes. These bacteria can spread to the heart, causing further problems. While a specific causal relationship has not yet been proven, it is believed that patients who suffer from strokes have a higher likelihood of also suffering from an oral infection.

Our practice understands that your oral health is closely and complexly related to your overall health, and we strive to provide each patient with excellent dental care that fits your specific situation. Please inform our dentist if you have a history of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke so we can ensure that you receive proper care. We welcome you to call or visit us with any questions you may have.