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How are Diabetes and Gum Disease Connected?

gumdisease.pngThis is a very interesting question. I should point out that the word about this connection isn’t completely ‘official’ yet – meaning that the government and some professionals aren’t completely on board with this one.  However, I think that most dental professionals, scientists and researchers agree that there is a connection.

In light of that disclaimer, I will tell you about this supposed connection in very easy to understand terms. Here is what is believed to be happening in a nut shell:

Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue in your mouth. It is caused by anaerobic bacteria. That is a kind of bacteria that like an oxygen deprived environment to grow in. You may wonder why your mouth doesn’t have enough oxygen in it? Well it does. But the problem is dental plaque. Plaque is constantly accumulating on your teeth and between your teeth and your gums. You could picture it as slime in a fish tank. It will continue to accumulate and that is why you need to clean the fish tank – as well as your teeth.

Underneath the dental plaque is where the bacteria find the environment that is deprived of oxygen – therefore they can grow and reproduce there rapidly. This is also why we have to clean our teeth of the plaque on a regular basis.

Your gums are an easy pathway to your blood. The tissue is thin and loaded with small blood vessels. It is very easy for the bacteria to enter your bloodstream this way.

This is where the problem comes in. Your body knows. And your body must respond to this constant influx of bacteria.

One of the things the body does is produce a variety of chemicals as part of the ‘inflammatory’ response. Nature designed this response to help ward of infection and heal tissue as quickly as possible.

The problem comes in because gum disease is a ‘chronic’ condition. The body was not designed to maintain the inflammatory response forever – only for relatively short periods of time.

These chemicals that the body produces due to the inflammatory response affect ‘receptors’ on your body’s cells. It is as if the body is saying, “look, we have an emergency here, I need you to do some things and put your normal routine aside for a while”. The problem is the “all clear” is never sent. And this situation persists for the long term.

What happens in this response process is that the insulin receptors on the cell diminish in number. Remember that the body thinks it has to take care of a problem – and one of the things that happens is that the insulin receptors diminish. This is due to one or more  of the chemicals that the body has put into the blood stream as part of the inflammatory response.

Therefore, the cells begin to have a hard time being responsive to insulin. This means that your cells are having a hard time getting glucose inside where they will convert it to energy. This is because insulin is the chemical that the body uses to allow sugar to move across the cell’s outer membrane. 

You become insulin resistant. We, as human beings, respond to this need by giving the patient more insulin. Then you become insulin dependent because your body is always counting on this external source of insulin to keep functioning properly.

Voila, now you can see the supposed connection between diabetes and gum disease. And I should point out that this gum disease is suspected of contributing to a number of other diseases as well!

About the author: David Snape invites you to learn more about his book: What You Should Know about Gum Disease available at Amazon and GingivitisKiller.com  It explains, in easy to understand terms, what you can do to fight and defeat gum disease.

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