A Root Canal

Is Your Diabetes Putting You at Risk of Gum Disease?

If you have diabetes, you may be surprised to learn that you also have an increased risk for gum disease. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes and nearly 22 percent of those Americans also have periodontal disease. The reasons may seem complicated, but the more you understand about the connection between your diabetes and the health of your mouth, the better you will be able to prevent unnecessary dental problems.

Why do people with diabetes get gum disease?

People with diabetes have problems processing the sugar in the foods they eat. But it isn't just refined sugars that cause a problem. Because carbohydrates break down into sugars when they are digested, they play a major role in controlling your glucose levels, too. The increased levels of glucose in your blood is one of the primary factor in causing gum disease.

Because bacteria thrives on sugars, it makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. It is this growth of bacteria that causes the infection in the mouth that leads to periodontal disease. Diabetes also causes blood vessels to harden and lose their ability to carry nourishment to the body and to carry away wastes. This also contributes to gum disease.

How can you prevent gum disease?

Because uncontrolled glucose levels is one of the primary factors to gum disease in people with diabetes, controlling your glucose levels may prevent gum disease. That means taking medications if necessary, watching what you eat and getting plenty of exercise to control your diabetes. Following your treatment plan and keeping your glucose levels within the normal range is vital to preventing gum disease. But that is only the beginning.

To maintain healthy teeth and gums you need to take care of your mouth, too. Some examples of where to start include:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled brush, since hard brushes can damage the enamel on your teeth.
  • Floss every day to remove plaque and food particles.
  • Stop smoking if you are a smoker.
  • Clean your dentures or partials daily.
  • Visit your dentist for regular cleanings and routine dental care.

How do you treat gum disease?

Gum disease is a progressive disease that can destroy the tissues that hold your teeth in place and may damage the bones in your jaw. It can be slowed, and in some cases corrected with surgery, but it cannot be reversed.

Depending on the stage of your gum disease, your dentist may remove plaque and treat the infection with an antibiotic rinse. In the early stages of gun disease, removing plaque and infected tissue may encourage your gums to reattach to the teeth and slow the progression of gum disease. Your dentist might also perform periodontal surgery to clean and replace the connective tissues for your teeth. This may prevent tooth loss in advanced gum disease.

What are the benefits of treating gum disease?

Treating your gum disease improves the health of your mouth and may prevent tooth loss, but that is not the only benefit for someone with diabetes. Treating and eliminating the infection in your mouth also helps lower your glucose levels and makes your diabetes easier to manage. It also helps your immune system by reducing the need to devote attention to fighting off gum disease.

If you have diabetes, proper dental care is vital to your health and should not be overlooked. Resist the urge to assume the damage has already been done and neglect your mouth and teeth. Click here for more info about ways you can improve your dental health and enjoy a healthy mouth. Also, contact your dentist to learn more personal tips.