Diabetes carries an increased risk for many health complications, and individuals with diabetes must carefully plan many aspects of their lives to reduce those risks. The link between gum disease and diabetes is one such example. If you have diabetes, you should take additional precautions to prevent gum disease.
The Connection Between Gum Disease and Diabetes
People with diabetes cannot naturally regulate their blood sugar levels, and instead, many must rely on careful control of their diets and insulin injections. Unregulated blood sugar levels impact other areas of your health, including oral health.
Increased blood sugar levels result in a higher sugar level in your saliva. This provides additional energy for bacteria in your mouth, and those bacteria cause gum disease if they continue to grow. As their levels increase, you’re at higher risk of both gum disease and tooth decay.
Dry mouth is also a common symptom of diabetes. Your mouth may produce less saliva, leaving you with a dry feeling. This is more than just unpleasant. It also allows bacteria to thrive. Saliva has natural antibacterial properties, so a persistently dry mouth can increase your risk of gum disease.
Gum Disease Can Also Be a Risk Factor for Diabetes
The link between gum disease and diabetes is complex, as gum disease is also a potential risk factor for diabetes. The inflammation caused by gum disease can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. This increases your risk of diabetes, especially in those with prediabetes, a condition defined by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.
If you suffer from gum disease, it could be a sign of diabetes due to the shared risk factors between the two conditions. Being overweight is a major risk factor in both cases and often leads to gum disease through issues such as sleep apnea.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Gum Diseases
Today, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes.1 This makes it an incredibly common condition, and any individual with diabetes is at a higher risk of gum disease. If you have diabetes, you can follow these steps to prevent gum disease and avoid the need for periodontal therapy or other more-extensive dental treatment down the road.
Watching for Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is more effectively treated when you spot it early. You can watch for signs of gum disease and reach out to your dentist if any are present. In the earliest stages, simply adjusting your diet or oral hygiene could be enough to reverse the condition. However, advanced gum disease will require more advanced periodontal therapy.
Keep an eye out for signs, including:
- Persistent bad breath
- Swollen, sore, or red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Changes in your bite
- Dry mouth, especially upon waking
Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist about any of these signs, as they can indicate gum disease or other oral health issues.
Managing Your Blood Sugar Levels
The impact of diabetes on your risk of gum disease is lessened when your blood sugar levels are kept under control. You can take a variety of approaches to do so and should talk to your doctor about advice for your specific needs. Keeping tight control over blood sugar through insulin injections can help.
Improving blood sugar levels through diet and exercise can reduce your risk of gum disease and provide a range of additional health benefits. Your doctor will be able to provide appropriate exercise recommendations. A healthy diet rich in nutrients also helps support your oral health.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene plays a key role in gum disease prevention. This is true for everyone, not just people with diabetes. Brushing and flossing your teeth twice per day helps manage bacteria levels in your mouth, preventing gum disease and tooth decay.
Make sure to discuss diabetes and other specific health concerns with your dentist. They may recommend changes to your oral hygiene routine to deal with your increased risk of gum disease.
Keeping up with Routine Dental Visits
Visiting your dentist at least every six months is vital to ensuring ongoing oral health. These routine visits let your dentist identify any issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay before they get out of hand. Teeth cleaning also serves to prevent gum disease by thoroughly removing harmful plaque and tartar deposits.
Routine dental care is important for all patients but is even more essential in individuals with elevated risk factors, such as those with diabetes.
Taking a Proactive Approach to Gum Disease
Choosing the right home for your dental care can help you avoid gum disease and other serious conditions. At Albion Family Dental, you’ll find a team that takes the time to understand your unique health needs. Find the gum disease prevention and treatment you need by scheduling your next appointment today. 585-589-9044