How untreated periodontal disease is linked with diabetes and cardiovascular disease

November is National Diabetes Awareness month in Canada.  Nine million people in Canada are affected by diabetes! That means that every hour of every day there are 20 people diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. This spring when I attended the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver, I attended a seminar by Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH, FACE, that opened  up a can of worms for myself and the importance of integrating a diabetes monitoring and screening system as hygienists within the clinic.

The basic way to check and monitor diabetes as a patient and as collaborating health practitioners ( e.g. your hygienist), starts with the “ABC’s”.

A is for A1C- Glycosylated hemoglobin, glycohemoglobin (blood test) can report a blood sugar level average over a period of 2 -3 months. The Canadian Diabetes Association’s recommended level for A1c is below 7%.

B is for blood pressure – high blood pressure can lead to eye disease, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. You may need to change your eating and exercise habits and/or take pills to keep your blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg.

C is for cholesterol – High cholesterol and other fats in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke so a Lipid Panel or Lipoprotein (blood test)  will help to assess this component.. The Canadian Diabetes Association’s recommended level for total cholesterol is below 200 mg/dl, LDL below 100 mg/dl, HDL above 40 mg/dl in men and above 50 mg/dl in women, and triglycerides below 150 mg/dl.

Untreated periodontal disease is associated with poor glycemic control in diabetes, and is considered the sixth complication of diabetes. For those who have the geek in them to read further about diabetes and is complications from a periodontal disease perspective, I have included a link to an excellent clinical paper on these matters. I am hoping that my next follow up blog this month will discuss C-reactive protein ( an inflammatory marker measured to diagnose cardiovascular disease, a big complication of diabetes). Thanks for reading!

Your friendly neighbourhood hygienist,