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What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Gum Disease

January 27, 2021 by christopher pupillo
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Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease or gingivitis, is often a serious dental health problem. However, people with Type I or Type II diabetes are especially vulnerable to this painful and debilitating condition.

Diabetes is notorious for affecting almost every part of the body in some way, and people who suffer from diabetes are more vulnerable to developing gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can also make controlling your blood sugar levels more difficult, so preventing gum disease should be a top priority for any person with diabetes.

Why Are People With Diabetes More Vulnerable to Gum Disease?

Both Type I and Type II diabetes inhibit the body’s ability to process glucose, a simple form of sugar the body uses to create energy. This causes high levels of unprocessed glucose to accumulate in the bloodstream. If diabetes is not properly managed with a controlled diet or regular insulin injections, this excess sugar gets into the body’s various tissues, causing widespread damage.

If a person with diabetes has high blood sugar levels, some of this excess glucose finds its way into their saliva. This sugary saliva can cause damage to the teeth and gums in the same way as sugary sweets and soft drinks. This promotes the growth of bacteria that can cause tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Gum disease affects people with diabetes in the same way as people who don’t have diabetes, causing the gums to become damaged and inflamed. However, because people with poorly controlled diabetes have high levels of sugar in their saliva, the bacteria causing the gum disease grow faster. As a result, gum disease occurs more frequently in people with diabetes and is more likely to become serious over time.

How Can Gum Disease Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels?

All bacteria infections, including those that cause gum disease, cause metabolic changes as the body responds to the infection. When the body senses bacterial infection, it increases production of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones decrease the effectiveness of insulin, the hormone that converts glucose into energy.

Consequently, gum disease in people with diabetes can create a vicious cycle, where high blood sugar levels promote bacterial infections in the gums and the body’s response to the bacterial infection raises blood sugar levels by reducing the effectiveness of insulin. If you take regular insulin injections to manage your diabetes, the injected insulin’s effectiveness can also decrease.

How Can People With Diabetes Avoid Gum Disease?

Diabetes may make you more vulnerable to developing gum disease, but that doesn’t mean you have to take any unusual steps to prevent gum disease from occurring. Brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue at least twice a day; flossing; and limiting your intake of sugary or acidic foods are just as effective at preventing gum disease as they are in people without diabetes.

However, because gum disease can progress more quickly if you have diabetes, visiting your dentist on a regular basis is particularly important. Dentists can spot early signs of gum disease before they become apparent to you and prevent minor bacterial infections from rapidly progressing into serious illness.

Regular deep cleanings from your dentist will also help prevent gum disease from occurring. These procedures will remove any plaque or tartar that you may miss while brushing and flossing, preventing dangerous bacteria from reproducing and infecting your gums.

When you visit your dentist, make sure to tell them about your diabetes, as well as any medications or dietary restrictions you use to manage your condition. Keeping your dentist informed about your medications is particularly important, as some commonly used diabetes medications can reduce the amount of saliva your mouth produces, affecting your oral health.

If you live with diabetes, always make sure to visit a reputable and trustworthy dental practice for oral inspections and deep cleanings. If you have any more questions about how diabetes can affect your oral health, contact the dental experts at Accent Dental today.