How Diabetes Affects Your Gum Health

Did you know that diabetes and gum disease are connected? Some studies suggest that each condition can make the other worse. Diabetes is a disease that causes elevated blood sugar (glucose), a dangerous condition. Chronically elevated blood sugar weakens a person’s immune system and ability to ward off germs and infections.

An area that people don’t commonly consider when thinking of keeping themselves well is their mouth. Blood vessels are a two-way highway, transporting oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, and hauling off waste products from our tissues. Diabetes causes a thickening of blood vessels, which makes the waste removal more difficult. That’s how gum disease can set in.

dentist checking the old lady's mouth

Gum disease originates with dental plaque. Plaque builds up on teeth daily and is removed with regular brushing and flossing. If hygiene habits are relaxed, plaque can assemble along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky, white substance that is comprised of bacteria. The elevated blood sugar in diabetics increases sugar in their saliva. Bacteria thrive on sugars. If left unattended, it begins to do damage quickly. Gums that are attacked by plaque develop a condition known as gingivitis. When gingivitis progresses, it becomes periodontal disease, a more serious gum infection. Gum disease advances aggressively in diabetics because of the slowed blood circulation, making the gums even more prone to infection’s attack. Symptoms of gum disease are:

  • red, inflamed, bloody gums
  • bad taste in the mouth from infection
  • loosening teeth or tooth loss
  • cavities
  • thrush

At Huebner Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics, our team is dedicated to the specialized needs of our diabetic patients. We will work with you to help prevent other complications from diabetes, including fungal infections, burning mouth syndrome, and dry mouth. We can detect and remedy these problems during your routine dental examinations and cleanings. We also recommend that patients with diabetes be mindful about their diet to keep it low in sugar and fast-burning carbohydrates, to brush and floss at least twice daily, and to consume a lot of water to help flush bacteria from the mouth.

Do you have diabetes? At Huebner Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics, we want to help you manage the oral symptoms of the condition. Call us today to schedule your comprehensive examination.