Wondering if diabetes causes gum disease? Learn more about the disease and its effect on oral health
Have you ever asked, “How does diabetes affect gum disease and my overall oral health?” It’s an important question, and with almost 30 million people in the United States living with diabetes, awareness and education on oral hygiene is imperative. While diabetes complications can affect many areas of the body, an unexpected complication many people are not aware of has to do with oral health. If you have ever wondered if diabetes causes gum disease, you will want to know that research shows there are an increased prevalence of gum issues for people with the disease. Gum disease and other oral health problems tend to also be more common in patients who do not have the disease well controlled. Because oral health is vital to keeping your body in top condition, let’s take a closer look at dental hygiene, periodontitis and diabetes.
Poorly controlled diabetes can often lead to a variety of complications and when these involve the mouth and gums, an individual may see an increase in cavities, oral ulcers, soreness, infections, gum disease and periodontitis. Periodontitis and diabetes is serious, as this is the most severe form of gum disease. When periodontitis occurs, the gums begin to recede from the teeth, forming pockets. Over time, the pockets fill with pus and germs and continue to grow deeper. At this point, surgery is typically required in order to save your teeth. If you opt to not go forward with surgery, infection will typically devastate the bone around your teeth. In these final stages, teeth will become loose, move or fall out.
Studies show that diabetes is a major risk factor for periodontitis, and those diagnosed with diabetes are three times more likely to get this type of gum disease. There are warning signs in the early stages that are crucial to be aware of – these include having sore, red gums that bleed.
In order to prevent any oral health complications from diabetes, here are a few tips on how to keep your mouth healthy:
- Work with your physician regularly to keep your diabetes and blood sugar as well controlled as possible.
- Brush your teeth and floss each day.
- Make sure you see a dentist regularly and make him/her aware that you have diabetes so they can evaluate your oral health status and any gum issues.
- See a dentist if you notice your gums are sore.
- Check your mouth regularly for dryness, white patches (thrush), or bleeding from flossing or brushing.
- If you smoke, consider quitting right away. Smoking can worsen gum disease, especially in those with diabetes who are older than 45 years of age.
- If possible, brush your teeth after each snack or meal using a soft toothbrush and small, circular motions.
Periodontitis and diabetes is commonly referred to as a two-way street in terms of how they affect one another. While diabetes increases one’s chances of getting periodontitis, once someone has periodontitis, he or she can have a higher chance of getting other diabetes complications.
Good oral health is crucial to our well being, especially for people diagnosed with diabetes.