Periodontitis- gum, or periodontal disease - involves inflammation and destruction of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth, including the gums and supporting bone. Periodontitis destroys the periodontal ligaments or connective tissue fibers that attach the tooth to the bone causing resorption (destruction) of the alveolar bone (tooth socket). Consequently, the gums swell, redden, change shape, bleed, teeth loosen and pus forms. With the loss of soft tissue and bony support, deep periodontal pockets may form that foster bacterial growth. The sad thing about all this is the fact that there is no pain involved in the process.
Diabetes is a complex disease with both vascular and metabolic components. A back and forth connection exists between diabetic control and oral infections. When gum disease (periodontal infection) is established, metabolic control of diabetes is worsened. When diabetes is worsened, gum disease progresses.
People with diabetes are twice as prone to gum disease. The link between diabetes and oral health can't be ignored (see The Scottsdale Project Report). In fact, dental problems in people with diabetes are so rampant that some believe oral disease should be referred to as "the sixth 'opathy' of diabetes," deserving of the attention given to retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy and the like.
Gums affected by gingivitis often bleed and are sensitive, but not always. Other signs include swollen gums, loose teeth, a bad taste in the mouth and persistent bad breath.
While everyone is prone to periodontitis, or diseases of the tissues surrounding the teeth and gums, people with diabetes often have more severe cases that can both cause and predict additional diabetic complications.