Diabetes is among the most widespread health conditions, affecting more than 37 million people in the US.1 It’s associated with a wide range of severe complications and significantly impacts life expectancy and lifestyle. Many people are unaware of the connection between diabetes and gum disease and what they can do about it.
Diabetes Increases Your Risk of Gum Disease
Diabetes has wide-ranging effects on various systems throughout the human body. Some of these changes contribute to an increased risk of gum disease. While gum disease is still a severe concern in individuals without diabetes, it’s an even more pressing issue for anyone with it.
One of the most significant changes is the change in the elasticity of blood vessels. Over time, excess blood sugar levels impact the blood vessels making them less elastic. This can impede blood flow, contributing to high blood pressure and other health issues. It also increases your risk of gum disease.
Compromised blood vessels reduce blood flow throughout the body, including to the gums and surrounding tissue. This means fewer nutrients and fewer immune cells that reach the gums opening the door to infection.
The increased blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can also lead to a corresponding sugar increase in the fluids in your mouth. This provides an environment more favorable for bacteria, allowing them to thrive and grow. As bacteria levels grow out of control, your risk of gum disease rises.
Gum disease can also increase the risk of diabetes or make managing diabetes more difficult. The infection can cause inflammation, which leads your body to produce higher blood sugar levels in response.
Gum Disease Prevention for People with Diabetes
Gum disease prevention is vital for everyone, but individuals with diabetes should consider taking a more deliberate approach due to their increased risk. You can follow some simple steps for prevention when dealing with diabetes and gum disease.
First, getting your diabetes under control can help mitigate the increased risk. Proper insulin use, medications, diet, and exercise are all methods that can help regulate blood sugar levels. The best way to move forward is to talk to your doctor about the right approach for your unique needs.
Adjusting your diet can also help prevent gum disease in other ways. Gum disease is the infection of the gums by bacteria in your mouth. Those bacteria rely on sugar as their food source, so avoiding certain foods can limit their growth. Sugary drinks like soda or sticky foods that leave behind residue on your teeth should be avoided.
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is another critical step. Gum disease starts to take hold when plaque develops on your teeth. Brushing and flossing twice each day helps prevent the development of plaque. You should brush your tongue as well to help remove even more bacteria.
Routine teeth cleaning and examination are also essential. They rely on special tools to remove any built-up plaque during cleaning. Given the increased risk associated with diabetes, you may consider visiting a periodontist for specialized cleaning rather than a general dentist and do so more frequently.
Gum Disease Signs to Watch For
Along with visiting a periodontist for routine exams and cleanings, you can watch for some signs of gum disease at home. Many of the symptoms of gum disease can arise from multiple potential causes, but they’re all well worth checking out with your periodontist.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. You might notice red, swollen, or sore gums at this early point. You can also experience persistent bad breath, the most well-known symptom of gingivitis.
As gum disease progresses, your symptoms can worsen. You may notice bleeding gums when brushing or flossing. You could develop pain while chewing. Receding gums are another common sign. Eventually, teeth can become loose or shift position as the gum tissue supporting them weakens.
Gum disease intervention and treatment are most effective in the early stages. You can achieve the best outcome by speaking to your periodontist about any signs as soon as they appear.
Managing Diabetes and Gum Disease
If you’re living with diabetes, you have an increased risk of gum disease and should react accordingly. Keeping up with routine visits, practicing good oral hygiene, and watching for signs of gum disease can make all the difference. However, you may already be at a point where treatment is necessary.
The team at Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester provides specialized periodontal hygiene and teeth cleanings for individuals at higher risk of gum disease. We also offer various gum surgery options to treat gum disease and restore affected tissue.
Whether you seek effective prevention or need treatment, you can schedule an appointment today. Give us a call at 585-685-2005.