Type 2 Diabetes – Taking Care Of Your Mouth And Teeth

Type 2 Diabetes – Taking Care Of Your Mouth And Teeth

Periodontitis is a complication people with Type 2 diabetes and their dentists would like to avoid. The disease occurs as the result of gum inflammation, or gingivitis, that is allowed to progress until it affects the underlying bone.

Having diabetes increases the incidence of several mouth problems, including:

increased plaque (the sticky film of bacteria that develops on your teeth),

fungal infections,

interferes with taste, and

periodontal disease.

High levels of blood sugar means higher amounts of sugar in your saliva. Saliva contains a small amount of bacteria and with “more food” (sugar) around, bacteria can grow more quickly. Problems with plaque occur more often in people diagnosed with diabetes.

Investigators at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, looked at proteins in the saliva of Type 2 diabetes volunteers to determine whether the presence of certain proteins could predict the tendency to develop periodontitis.

This study was published in April 2012 in the International Journal of Molecular Science, and compared proteins in the saliva of Type 2 diabetics with and without periodontitis.

Seven proteins were found in different quantities in the two groups. The proteins included:

polymeric immunoglobulin receptor,


actin-related protein 3,

leucocyte elastase inhibitor,

carbonic anhydrase 6,

immunoglobulin J, and

interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. (Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist is known to cause destruction of pancreatic beta cells and reduce insulin secretion).

From this information it was concluded testing for the seven proteins could help to predict which diabetics are likely to develop periodontitis. That would give diabetics and their dentists the opportunity to take extra care to prevent periodontitis before it has the chance to develop.

Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, and it is particularly common in Type 2 diabetics. According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, about 95 per cent of Americans with diabetes have at least some periodontal disease and almost a third have periodontitis.

The National Institute of Health in the United States, states diabetics are two to three times more likely to develop periodontitis than non-diabetics and they say the signs and symptoms include:

bad breath,

shiny, purplish red, tender, bleeding or swollen gums,

gums that bleed easily, and

lose teeth.

Complications include:

infections of the soft tissues of the face, jaw bones, or heart,

tooth cavities, movement, or loss, and

trench mouth.

When periodontitis is present in diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels becomes more difficult.

What should you do to take care of your mouth?

brushing and flossing after meals gets rid of particles of food that feed bacteria and lead to plaque.

professional cleaning should be performed at least twice a year.

not smoking also helps to prevent periodontitis.

contact your doctor if you have persistent bad breath or taste impairment.

Eat a healthy diet, and if you can’t brush after a meal, at least rinse your mouth with water.

Some day it might be possible to take a sample of each dental patient’s saliva and determine who needs extra care. In the mean time, follow your dentist’s instructions for healthy teeth and gums.