Diabetics are certainly more prone to dental diseases as well. Periodontal disease involves the loss of bone support for the teeth. New research estimates that 50% of the adult population has periodontal disease, making it one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States. It is usually identified by your dentist or hygienist during your dental examination. The bone loss is called as a “pocket,” identified by measuring the distance between the top of the gum line and the underlying attachment to the bone. The deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease.
In an uncontrolled diabetic, the disease can progress faster than in the normal population. Our body’s immune system is made up of white blood cells called neutrophils whose sole job is to engulf bacteria and neutralize them. But in diabetics, the neutrophil can no longer sense the bacteria, allowing the bacteria to spread and the pocket to become deeper, leading to loosening of the tooth. If the diabetes is controlled, the neutrophil recovers and can find the bacteria.
The good news is that if you are a controlled Type 2 diabetic with good periodontal care, you have a good chance of minimizing your periodontal disease and retaining your teeth. And that control will reduce your chance of generalized infections as well.