Gum diabetes and diabetes may seem to be very different conditions. But in reality, they are closely related.
On first thought, gum disease and diabetes may seem like two distinct medical conditions. Diabetes, a chronic disease, is marked by a lower amount of insulin or a body’s inability to manage insulin properly. The result is a glucose level that is higher than normal.
Meanwhile, gum disease (periodontitis) is a severe, progressive infection of the gum tissue, which could lead to tooth loss and other complications if not treated. So, how could these two different conditions be linked? While it may not appear so at first glance, there is a definite connection between diabetes and gum disease, explained further below.
The link between gum disease and diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 37.3 million Americans, or one in 10, have diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes triples the chance of developing gum disease. How is that so? Let’s look at the reasons:
Dry mouth. With diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough saliva to wash away food particles and decay-causing bacteria on teeth and gums. As a result, your mouth becomes dry, a significant risk factor for gum disease and cavities.
Higher glucose levels in saliva. The saliva that is produced contains a higher level of glucose or sugar. Sugar promotes the growth of plaque and bacteria, leading to a high possibility of gum disease developing.
Changes in blood vessels. Diabetes thickens the blood vessels, which impedes the flow of nourishing blood to tissues, including your gum tissues. Weakened gum tissues are more vulnerable to infection and periodontitis.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, you stand a greater chance of developing the condition if you have gum disease. That’s because inflammation anywhere in the body causes glucose levels to rise. About half of all adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease, potentially putting them at risk of diabetes.
Taking care of your gums with diabetes
As a chronic condition, diabetes affects your whole body, including your mouth. If you notice any signs of gum disease, such as bleeding, swollen gums, receding gums, loose teeth, bad breath, or pus, talk to your dentist about treatments to remove excess bacteria and plaque on the gum line and roots. Advanced gum disease can be managed with surgical procedures to build up lost gum and bone tissue with grafts and reduce the pockets between the gums and tooth where bacteria can thrive.
You can also practice self-care at home to reduce the likelihood of gum disease if you have diabetes:
- Manage your blood sugar levels with medications and eat a healthy diet.
- Brush and floss daily. These practices are always essential, but more so when you have diabetes.
- Inform your dentist if you have diabetes and the medications you take. If your blood sugar levels are high, cancel any non-emergency dental procedures.
- Schedule frequent dental examinations to check on the health of your gums and teeth.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for gum disease, with 64.2 percent of smokers having gum disease. The risk is even higher for smokers who have diabetes.
The connection between diabetes and gum disease highlights the need to maintain oral health. Taking care of your teeth and gums is one way to possibly prevent diabetes and gum disease.
Start by brushing and flossing daily to reduce the amount of damaging bacteria and plaque on your teeth. Twice annual dental cleanings scrape off tartar, a hardened substance that attracts more bacteria and irritates the gums. While brushing and flossing cuts down on bacteria and plaque, only a dental hygienist can remove tartar.
And keep up with your dental checkups! The earlier your dentist spots gum disease, the sooner you begin treatment to keep your gums healthy. And healthy gums lessen your risk of diabetes.
Your oral care specialists in Wyoming
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Cheyenne, WY, location today! Our highly trained dentists can examine your teeth for any signs of gum disease, and we can walk you through extra care if you have diabetes. Don’t live near our Cheyenne, WY, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
7112 Commons Circle
Cheyenne, WY 82009