That Periodontitis Raises Blood Sugar Levels Is Not Sweet News
Of all the things that most people want raised, a blood sugar level isn’t one of them. Award rates, living standards, access to education, ethics, eyebrows, awareness and spirits all hit the list waaay above that.
It’s as if the periodontitis payload of horror isn’t bad enough.
Loose and lost teeth, inflamed gums, chronic oral discomfort and changes in chewing can now add type 2 diabetes to this lamentable (thought not complete) list. Soon there will be fear and loathing in the lost vagus nerve, given the emerging evidence that part of the oral-gut-brain axis is a defined, and anatomical relay of constant communication between the mouth and the intestine.
Predominantly, the trigeminal nerve is the oral-brain axis, while the gut-brain axis is the vagus nerve.
Oral-gut communication is the anatomical relationship from constantly swallowing oral bacteria.
The more complex gut-brain communication is because of nervous system interactions and immunity responses to bacteria and pathogens. These axes are bi-directionally dynamic.
Periodontitis can produce both neurodegenerative, as well as intestinal issues – most likely simultaneously.
The severity of any of these types of inflammatory diseases could depend, at least in part, on the effect of periodontitis on the gut microbiota.
It’s been long recognised that diabetes sufferers, particularly those with untreated or uncontrolled diabetes, have more gum disease than their diabetes-free counterparts.
What the news is now, is that scientists are finding that gum disease raises blood sugar levels – regardless of their diabetes status.
According to WHO, close to 425 million people across the globe are diabetic – which is heading towards 10% of the world population.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums around the teeth. In its more serious form – periodontitis – the infection is chronic, dissolving soft gum tissue, and bone over time. It is one of the most common diseases in the world.
Almost 20% of adults worldwide, suffer from severe periodontitis.
That’s more than a billion people, people.
So that’s one billion, 425 million people with blood sugar levels affecting their health with some sources claiming that almost 22% of diabetics have periodontal disease.
US research suggests that it’s more like 25% of people aged over the age of 50 years who have diabetes will experience severe tooth loss, compared with 16% of those without.
Evidence also indicates that having type 2 diabetes roughly triples the likelihood of developing dental issues that acutely impact quality of life.
Persistently high blood sugar levels negatively affect oral health by increasing the risk of infections that may lead to gum disease.
On the flipping flipside, gum disease makes it more difficult to control blood glucose because oral bacteria change intestinal permeability.
It’s a dental and diabetes doomsday.
The risk of developing periodontal disease is clearly reduced when blood sugars are kept within a healthy range through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Both these components have a plethora of beliefs and strategies attached, and whereby the end justifies the means.
Paleo or not; personal trainer or personal perseverance.
If you have to be told about brushing and flossing at least twice a day then regular dental appointments aren’t happening either which is an outcome that still offers a choice.
Which would you like first – gum disease, or an endocrine disorder?
If you wait, you can have both.
Another effect of periodontal bacteria colonising the intestinal tract is a noticeable intestinal inflammatory response.
When gut imbalance (dysbiosis) occurs in the intestine due to increased periodontal pathogens, there’s also an alteration to the intercellular junctions. Bacteria and virulence factors spread through this paracellular pathway to other tissue.
Another complication of diabetes is the thickening of blood vessels and that also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Blood vessels deliver oxygen and nourishment to body tissues, and carry waste products away. When blood vessels thicken, the flow of nutrients is restricted, and the removal of harmful wastes is greatly slowed. It weakens the resistance to infection of gum and bone tissues.
Diabetes can be less diabolical with the help of your dentist.
Any issues need to be found and treated early for any treatment to be effective.
That goes for everyone, everyone!
If frequent dental appointments are needed, have them. This is about your whole health – not just your smile.
As sweet as it is to sugarcoat the blood sugar issue, don’t. Raise the stakes of your health waaay before that.
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