Diabetes and Gum Disease: What You Need to Know

A person pulling down their bottom lip to show inflamed gumsTaking care of your gums is vital for everyone, but it is crucial for individuals with diabetes. National Gum Disease Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn more about the connection between diabetes and gum disease.

The Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease

Diabetes affects nearly all body systems, including the mouth. Did you know that if you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop gum disease, cavities, and infections of the teeth and gums?

Conversely, if you do not care for your teeth and gums properly, infection and decay can make diabetes worse. Gums and soft tissues surrounding the teeth are inflamed if you develop gum disease. Inflammation can trigger a spike in blood sugar levels, which can contribute to diabetes or make a diabetic’s symptoms more severe.

Diabetes’ Affect on Your Oral Health

Lack of saliva increases the risk of gum disease and cavities. Patients who have diabetes may have decreased saliva production due to the disease itself and certain medications. People with diabetes experiencing a spike in blood glucose levels will also have increased sugar levels in their saliva, which can feed bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria contributes to plaque, cavities, and gum disease.

Several oral health problems can develop if you have diabetes, particularly if your diabetes is not adequately controlled:

  • Plaque and cavities
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis (gum disease)
  • Dry mouth
  • Thrush (a fungal infection of the soft tissues of the mouth)
  • Burning mouth syndrome, caused by elevated blood sugar levels

Your Dentist and Diabetes

It is essential to let your dentist know if you have diabetes so that they can provide you with the appropriate oral health care. Having your complete medical background allows your dental professionals to customize your care and monitor potential health issues related to your diabetes that often translate to oral health problems. They can also check for the early warning signs of diabetes, which may appear during a routine oral exam.

If you have diabetes, information that can help better protect your dental health includes the following:

  • How long have you had diabetes
  • Any complications from your diabetes
  • All medications you take
  • Any changes in your health, especially change in blood glucose levels

It is crucial to contact your dentist any time you have symptoms of a dental health problem so that treatment, with your dentist and medical professional, can begin as soon as possible.

Nine Symptoms of Gum Disease

Patients with diabetes are prone to developing gum disease (periodontitis), which can be challenging to treat with unstable blood sugar levels or reduced saliva production.

If you have any of the following symptoms and diabetes, please note that complete dental and periodontal care is essential to protect your oral health and minimize its impact on diabetes.

  • Bleeding gums, especially after brushing your teeth
  • Gums that are red, inflamed, or tender
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Pus or bleeding of the gums
  • Difficulty chewing because of sensitivity
  • A shift in jaw alignment
  • Problems with dentures fitting properly

Routine dental checkups and professional cleanings help combat gum disease for everyone. However, it is even more important for patients with diabetes. If you have not seen a dentist in the last six months and are diabetic, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist’s office for an exam and thorough teeth cleaning. At your appointment, take the time to discuss an oral care plan to protect your teeth and gums and minimize the consequences of your diabetes. For additional information, contact us at Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry office Phone Number 617-277-4100 or request an appointment online.

Stop Gum Disease Before It Starts

Contact us with any questions or to schedule a gum disease evaluation.

Call us: 617-277-4100

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