Diabetics and Gum Disease

Oct 8, 2014

Don came to our practice because he moved to the area and needed a dentist that treats with protocols for the diabetic. He is living with diabetes and lately had noticed his A1C levels were creeping higher and he didn’t know why. We did a thorough examination of his mouth and found that he had bleeding gums and an abscessed tooth.

Patients living with diabetes are more prone to infections and other health risks. They must keep their gum tissues healthy to keep the bacteria from wreaking havoc on the rest of their organs. Here are the facts that we told Don.

  1. Bleeding gums increase the risk of heart attack by 2X
  2. Bleeding gums increase the risk of stroke by 3X
  3. If you are diabetic and have bleeding gums, it is difficult to control your blood sugar.
  4. Bleeding gums are linked to certain types of cancer particularly lymphoma, colon, and prostate.
  5. Bleeding gums increase your CRP blood levels. CRP is a marker for inflammation in the body. Bacteria from the mouth pass through the gum tissues and cause inflammation of the blood vessels of the heart. This leads to hardening of the arteries and heart disease.

Here is the cascade effect of the bacteria from the mouth entering the blood stream:

  1. Bacteria pass through the ulcerated gum tissue into the bloodstream
  2. There is a chronic inflammatory burden on the entire body’s system due to the bacteria directly invading the tissues
  3. The blood becomes more insulin resistant so there is an increase in sugar molecules in the bloodstream
  4. The glucose or sugar molecule attaches to the red blood cell (glycolated RBC). These cells act as little razor blades which cut the cell wall as the red blood cell passes through the cell walls of vessels all over the body. This is particularly devastating to the small capillaries of the kidney and eye. This is why diabetics are more likely to experience blindness and kidney failure.
  5. The liver produces C Reactive Protein (CRP) in response to the inflammatory cells in the body. The test for this protein is now becoming a standard blood test for cardiologists in predicting heart attacks. Half of all heart attack and stroke victims have normal cholesterol.
  6. The 40 million pre-diabetics could become diabetic due to the gum disease increasing insulin resistance
  7. Diabetics who also have gum disease have a 200%-400% increase in heart disease and strokes and have an 8 fold premature death rate.

Getting back to our patient, Don was scheduled with Elaine, our hygienist who treated his gum disease non-surgically. The first thing she did was a simple finger prick blood test that measures the A1C levels and also the C Reactive Protein(CRP) levels.

Next was a good home care program that taught Don how to remove all of the plaque from his teeth on a daily basis. He was not “a flosser”, he told us. No problem, we have other ways to tackle plaque and bacteria.

Elaine saw him for a few appointments to thoroughly remove all of the hardened debris and ozonate the tissues to kill bacteria and heal the gums. Any pockets that were not healthy at this point, were lasered by the doctors. All of this was done very comfortably.

Once treatment was complete, the blood testing was performed again to check the CRP and A1C levels. Both had improved.


Gum disease is preventable and today we have many ways to treat gum disease comfortably.