Dental implants and diabetes

Diabetes is linked to our oral health in a number of ways, including development of gum disease and suitability for dental implant treatment.

Diabetes and gum disease

Diabetes is a disease of the body's metabolism that occurs when the pancreas is either unable to produce insulin (Type 1) causing high glucose levels or insufficient insulin is produced due to a lack of cellular response (Type 2) resulting in uncontrolled blood glucose levels.

Research suggests that people with diabetes may be more likely to develop gum diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Blood glucose or sugar levels impact tooth and gum health. Gum disease may also impact the ability to control blood glucose levels. Diabetes raises risk of bacteria infecting gum tissue, due to blood sugar raising oral acidity levels – conditions in which bacteria thrive.

Controlling diabetic blood glucose levels is essential for good oral health. Diabetics are at raised risk of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease that may result in tooth loss. The gum disease may make it more difficult to control blood sugar, raising levels higher than what they should be.

Gum disease and tooth loss

Gum disease starts with inflammation of the gums that then appear red and swollen. The start of gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. Dentists provide early intervention treatment for gum disease through regular dental check-ups and dental hygiene visits. Gingivitis is treatable.

Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease where gingivitis develops into periodontal disease. Bacteria cause oral infection and the periodontal ligament joining the teeth to the jaw bone through the gum tissue becomes destroyed. Diabetics may develop periodontitis that leads to tooth loss and the need to replace missing teeth for healthy dental structure.

Diabetics and dental implant treatment

Studies reveal that those with diabetes, particularly Type 2, who have lost teeth due to gum disease may respond well to dental implant treatment. The success rate of dental implant treatment for diabetics hinges on the introduction of prescribed antibiotics before, during and after treatment and mouth rinsing with an antiseptic such as chlorhexidine.

Certain types of dental implants may increase the success rate of diabetic-related dental implant treatment such as hydroxypaptite-coated dental implants. Not all patients with diabetes may be suitable candidates for dental implant treatment, similar to those with poor jaw bone density.

Successful dental implant treatment people with diabetes

Dental implant treatment should be provided by a qualified implantology expert who understands the factors affecting patients with diabetes. Diabetic patients with periodontitis may not be suitable for treatment with dental implants due to recurrent bacterial infection or bone loss. Smoking should be avoided as it raises blood pressure that affects blood sugar control. People with diabetes who have stabilised their blood glucose levels through medical treatment are more likely to experience successful dental implant treatment.

Diabetes and managing oral health

Due to the risks posed to oral health due to diabetes, a person with the disease may need help managing their oral hygiene and health. Dentists provide screening for gum disease, regular six monthly check-ups to determine when treatment is required, and urgent care. Dental hygienists scale and polish teeth to reduce likelihood of bacterial infection. If you have diabetes, discuss your concerns with a dentist and development of an oral health care plan for improved wellbeing.