Today, my dental hygienist told me that I have deep pockets. At first, I wondered, “Deep pockets? Extensive wealth?! Does my hygienist know something about my finances that I don’t know?” But, as it turned out, she did not. No reference to my pants pockets brimming with free-flowing cash here. Shucks. Instead, she was referring to my periodontal pockets (I should have guessed).
People with diabetes run a greater risk of developing serious gum disease (compared to the general, non-diabetic population) and deep periodontal pockets set the stage for this oral health problem. Great. My dentist told me that periodontal depths in the range of two to three are good, fives and sixes are bad. Oh boy, more numbers! As my dentist poked around my teeth, she called out numbers to the hygienist, “Three, two, three. Four, two, three. Two, two, three. Three-plus, two, four…” The majority of my numbers fell in the two to three range (my new dentistry-related favourite numbers). However, I did have some three-pluses and a few fours. Hence my hygienist’s comment about my deep pockets.
But I’m not too concerned about my oral health yet. Why?
1. My teeth are in great shape. I was told they are strong and stain-free. Yay, positive feedback!
2. I hadn’t been to the dentist in over two years. Regular check-ups and cleanings help reduce the risk of gum disease. Needless to say, I’m now all about regular cleanings.
3. I have stellar oral healthcare habits. I brush, I floss and I repeat a couple times a day. That’s really all there is to it.
4. Even though my pockets are deeper than the average 25 year old, my hygienist informed me that, if I start coming in regularly (people with diabetes are encouraged to come in every three to four months), they should get smaller.
My hygienist also told me that the connection between diabetes and gum disease flows two-ways; diabetes means greater risk of gum disease and gum disease means poorer blood sugar control. So, by avoiding gum disease, I figure I can avoid another factor confounding my ability to achieve great control. And, since great control is my one true diabetes desire, that’s some serious motivation.
If you want more details about diabetes and oral health, Colgate has some good information. Happy brushing!