Periodontitis and diabetes promote tooth loss and mortality
Around eleven million people in Germany suffer from inflammation of the tooth structure that requires treatment. Such periodontitis has particularly serious consequences for diabetes patients, because these two diseases have dangerous interactions, as reported by the German Diabetes Society. On the one hand, there is a three times higher risk of developing periodontitis due to type 1 and 2 diabetes, and on the other hand, existing periodontitis worsens the setting of the blood sugar level.
According to the German Diabetes Association (DDG), periodontitis is the most common chronic disease worldwide. Bacterial plaque is considered the main trigger for the inflammation of the tooth structure. The DDG recommends particularly careful oral hygiene to all diabetes patients and advises regular dentist checks. Furthermore, according to the DDG recommendation, diabetics have to pay close attention to blood sugar settings in order to keep the risk of periodontitis low.
How periodontitis develops
Periodontitis is often incorrectly referred to as periodontitis. In the disease, the bacterial plaque causes gingivitis (a superficial inflammation of the gums). If left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis. "In addition to poor oral hygiene, smoking, stress and genetic factors are the causes of this chronic inflammation," explains Professor Dr. med. Dirk Müller-Wieland, President of the DDG in a press release. In addition, diabetes mellitus is another major risk factor.
Diabetes favors periodontitis
"If the diabetes patient's blood sugar level is poorly adjusted, the risk of periodontitis increases significantly," says Müller-Wieland. But that is not how it remains. The two diseases have dangerous interactions. The professor reports that gum treatment becomes more complicated when both diseases are present. In addition, the course of the disease is more severe and tooth loss is more common.
Periodontitis worsens the course of diabetes
The presence of an inflammation of the tooth-holding apparatus in turn has an unfavorable effect on the blood sugar setting. "With the depth of the gum pockets, the long-term blood sugar level increases," explain the DDG experts. Studies have already found that even the mortality rate of periodontally ill diabetes patients is higher than that of people with a healthy oral cavity. One reason for this is seen in the negative effects of the inflammatory processes on heart health.
Periodontitis is often overlooked for a long time
A common problem in diagnosing periodontitis is that it does not cause pain for the most part and so there is no great commercial pressure on the part of the patient. "It is therefore important to pay attention to the first warning signs such as bleeding gums, swollen gums, bad breath, changes in the position of the teeth or loosened teeth," advises the DDG expert Dr. Erhard Siegel. This risk can be minimized through regular dental examinations.
Recognize early forms of periodontitis
Early diagnosis at the dentist using the periodontal screening index (PSI) can reveal early stages of periodontitis. According to the DDG, these can be treated much better. "Especially people with diabetes should go to the dentist for a check-up at least once a year," recommends dental expert Siegel.
You can do that yourself
Furthermore, the DDG doctors recommend giving up smoking, paying attention to a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding or reducing excess weight and stress. Stress relief methods can help reduce inflammation.
Self-test for the first assessment
The German Society for Periodontology (DG Paro) has developed a self-test together with the University of Greifswald, with which everyone at home can assess their own risk of periodontitis. Factors such as age, gender, smoking status, the presence of bleeding gums and the strength of the teeth play a role. The self-test can be carried out free of charge on the DDG website.
Doctors should also be more sensitive to the topic
"Diabetologists, general practitioners and dentists should also be made increasingly aware of this issue," says Müller-Wieland. There are about two million people in Germany who do not know that they have diabetes. As a result, these people would not know anything about their increased risk of periodontitis. The clarification on this topic must also take place more in all participating medical practices.
New guideline to improve prophylaxis
"For example, screening measures such as a diabetes test in dental surgeries or the inclusion of tooth status in the family doctor's medical history could ensure better prevention of periodontitis," says Siegel. A new guideline "Diabetes and Periodontitis" is currently in the works. This is intended to provide important information about the interactions between the two diseases and give specific recommendations for care and early detection. (vb)