Gum Disease and Diabetes
November 16th, 2021
You may be aware of how diabetes affects your nerves, kidneys, eyes, and heart. But did you know that people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from gum disease than those without it?1 In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, we will take a look at the relationship between gum disease and diabetes and the preventative measures you can take to ensure your mouth remains as healthy as possible.
Learn more about how gum disease and diabetes are linked.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. Insulin helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood, so when there isn’t enough of it, too much glucose (or blood sugar) stays in your bloodstream, leading to elevated blood sugar levels and a number of other health problems.
LINK BETWEEN GUM DISEASE AND DIABETES
According to the CDC, 34.2 million US adults have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don’t know they have it.2 When diabetes is untreated or poorly controlled, the high glucose levels in saliva allow germs and bacteria to grow. These bacteria can eventually turn into plaque, which is one of the leading causes of gum disease. Additionally, diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken. This change in blood vessels increases the risk of gum disease because it slows the flow of healthy nutrients in the mouth as well as the removal of harmful bacteria.
Conversely, gum disease can increase blood glucose levels in the mouth, making it harder to control blood sugar. This factor puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.3
TIPS TO PREVENT GUM DISEASE WHEN YOU HAVE DIABETES
Since gum disease and diabetes are so closely related, it’s imperative that you follow a proper oral care routine.
Here are tips on how to prevent gum disease:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush
- Remove plaque at least twice a day using a soft wood pick or floss
- Use a gentle, SLS-free toothpaste with aloe vera when brushing your teeth
- Rinse after you brush with an antigingivitis/antiplaque mouthwash
- Keep your blood glucose numbers as controlled and as close to your target as you can
- Eat healthy meals and reduce refined sugar and carb intake
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products as smokers with diabetes, age 45 or older, are 20x more likely to get severe gum disease4
- Receive regular cleanings from your dentist at least twice a year
If you have diabetes and start to notice some of the signs of gum disease, like swollen or bleeding gums, inflammation, or pain while chewing, tell your dentist immediately. You should always keep your dentist informed about any health conditions you have since they’ll be able to treat you properly and provide you with the best at-home care tips.
GUM DISEASE CAN CAUSE MANY HEALTH CONDITIONS
Though there is a circular relationship between gum disease and diabetes, diabetes isn’t the only condition that can affect your gum’s health—or vice versa. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to heart disease, COVID-19, dementia, and other health conditions. That’s why you should always use the right products and follow a proper oral care routine.