The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is significant and complex.  Studies show that these conditions interact in a two-way relationship; each disease is linked to higher risk of complications in the other. Diabetes has been shown to increase a patient’s susceptibility to developing gum disease and advancing disease progression.  Periodontal disease, in turn, has been linked to inhibiting the regulation of blood sugar and metabolic rates in diabetics.  It is critical that both diseases are properly treated and managed to reduce the risks that each disease poses to the other.

Diabetes Increases Risks of Periodontal Disease
Diabetes poses several risk factors for developing periodontal disease and driving disease progression.  Diabetics are generally more susceptible to infections like periodontal disease than those without diabetes.  When diabetes is not under control, high blood sugar levels significantly increase the risk of infection and advancing stages of periodontal disease.  Diabetic spikes in blood sugar impair white blood cells, compromising their ability to attack bacteria and prevent the infection that causes periodontitis. Persistent high blood sugar levels also trigger the body’s production of chemical compounds that cause excessive inflammation at sites of infection.  This inflammation of the gums is the most significant risk factor toward advanced stages of periodontal disease. Additionally, high blood sugar causes blood vessels to thicken, which reduces the flow of nutrients and waste to and from the site of infection.  
Together, these factors contribute to overall increased disease progression and damage. The compromised white blood cells and reduced flow of nutrients and waste can slow healing at infected and damaged sites.  This slower recovery allows for other risk factors, such as increased inflammation, to advance the infection more aggressively, causing greater damage at faster rates.
Periodontal Disease Impacts Blood Sugar Regulation
When viewed in the opposite direction, diabetics with periodontal disease have greater difficultly regulating their diabetic status.  Recent studies indicate that periodontal disease causes problems in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
The gum inflammation that occurs in periodontal disease causes an overproduction of chemicals which are linked to insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance means that although the body still produces insulin, the insulin is less able to adequately perform its role of transporting sugars from the bloodstream.  Such resistance leads to greater difficulty in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.  The longer this disruption persists, the greater the patient is at risk for diabetic complications such as glaucoma, neuropathy, and high blood pressure.  Several studies suggest that treating periodontal disease supports better regulation of blood sugar. 
Treating Periodontal Disease in Diabetics
By better understanding the two-way relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes, one can see the negative cyclical impact they can have upon each other. Therefore immediately addressing the conditions is critical.
If you currently have diabetes, you schedule an appointment to determine if you have signs of periodontal disease. Periodontal treatment options vary and may significantly help you regulate your blood sugar and control your diabetic status.  Ensuring the health of your gums can ultimately not only improve your oral and overall health, but save you time, worry, and money!