Our teeth are embedded in jaw bone, held in place by strong connecting fibres and the entire structure is covered by gums. Infection of the gums are collectively referred to as gum disease or periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases are the most common diseases affecting mankind! Gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease, is limited to the gums and affects people of all age groups. Periodontitis, the more severe form, is a destructive disease which causes progressive and permanent loss of the teeth support. It mostly affects adults. Globally, it is estimated that moderate disease affects 40% to 60% of adults while severe disease affects 10% to 15% of adults.
Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect the body’s ability to regulate the level and use of glucose. As this basic body function gets out of control, all of the body is affected. Poorly controlled disease can eventually lead to severe complications of blindness, kidney failure, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, stroke, coronary artery disease and severe periodontitis.
Periodontitis, Diabetes mellitus and Me
1 in 9 people in Singapore have diabetes mellitus. Almost 8 in 9 people in Singapore have some form of periodontal disease. While diabetes does not cause periodontal disease, people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop periodontitis than people without diabetes.
Both diseases are chronic and silent. The symptoms of diabetes mellitus are polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia. The symptoms of gum disease are gum redness, bleeding, swelling, recession and teeth developing spaces, being increasingly shaky, shifting from their original positions and tooth loss. By the time these symptoms become obvious, the diseases are usually at an advanced stage. Sometimes diabetes is picked up after the dentist raises the suspicion due to severe periodontitis.
Good control of the diabetic status reduces the risk of periodontitis or if periodontitis is already present reduces the risk of disease progression. Scientific studies have found that treatment of periodontitis can result in better diabetic control which might have the effect of significantly reducing other complications and reduce the rate of deaths associated with diabetes mellitus.
Periodontal health and Me
Anyone will agree that good health is something that sometimes even money cannot buy. Our body function is achieved by many organs and systems, and all are important. Our gums are not an isolated part of the body. Achieving and maintaining healthy gums has a direct benefit to your oral and general health. Maintain healthy gums by seeing your dentist regularly. If you have symptoms of periodontal disease, see a general dentist or periodontist (gum specialist) to have a thorough gum check. Early detection can result in a better outcome. If you have periodontal disease, there is absolutely no benefit in delaying treatment.