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Diabetes and Gum Disease - What's The Connection?

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Updated: March 22, 2008

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one of the leading causes of tooth loss among adults and is also frequently linked to the control of diabetes. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place and has also been linked to heart disease and strokes.

Factors That Link Diabetes to Gum Disease

  • Studies show that people with insufficient blood sugar control seem to develop gum disease more frequently and more severely then people who have good management over their diabetes.
  • Diabetes slows circulation, which can also make the gum tissues more susceptible to infections.
  • Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which increases the probability of the gums becoming infected.
  • High glucose levels in saliva promotes growth of bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • People with diabetes who smoke are far more likely to develop gum disease than people who smoke and do not have diabetes.
  • Poor oral hygiene is a major factor in gum disease for everyone, but it is even more so for a person with diabetes.
  • Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Gums that tend to bleed easily
  • Gums separating from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Frequent bad breath
  • Change in the way your teeth fit together
  • Change in the way partials or dentures fit
  • Prevention

  • Maintain good control over your blood sugar levels.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Good oral hygiene and regular dental check ups are essential in preventing gum disease.
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Be sure to tell your dentist and hygienist that you have diabetes so that he can detect any signs of early gum disease.

There are two major stages of periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. People with diabetes tend to develop gum disease more frequently than others. However, if it is diagnosed in the early stage (gingivitis), it can be treated and reversed. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage (periodontitis) may follow which includes bone loss and is irreversible.

Sources:

American Dental Association. Diabetes and Your Oral Health 12 November 2007.

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