Gum Disease and Diabetes

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the sixth most common disease in the world. People with diabetes are more likely to experience gum disease if they’ve had poor blood sugar levels for a long period of time.

People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.

Research has suggested that the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.

Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications. This is because periodontal disease is an infection, bacteria produce toxins that affect the carbohydrate metabolism in individual cells. It is also thought that the host response to periodontal bacteria can increase insulin resistance and, therefore, blood glucose levels.’ This two-way link is a wake-up call to take care of your teeth, especially since the incidence of diabetes is rising.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

In most cases gum disease is not painful and you may be unaware of it. However, if you have any of the following symptoms you should consult a dentist or hygienist:

Bleeding in the mouth when cleaning or eating
Swollen and red gums
Persistent bad breath
Shrinking (receding) gums
Gaps appearing between the teeth and the teeth moving apart
Loose teeth
Presence of pus around the gum line (abscesses)

If you have symptoms of gum disease, a dentist can provide you with a diagnosis and advice on preventing and treating gum disease.

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