Both gum disease and diabetes are serious and growing problems that affect a large portion of the population. The CDC estimates that about 29 million people suffer from diabetes in the United States, and about 25% of these cases are undiagnosed. An additional 86 million adults have prediabetes, according to the CDC. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects about half of American adults over the age of 30, and that percentage rises with age. Both diseases can have devastating consequences, and both often go unnoticed for a long period of time. There’s another link, however, between oral health and diabetes that can mean major health problems.
Diabetes and Gum Disease: The Symptoms
Diabetes is a common yet serious disease that occurs when the body has trouble using and regulating insulin, causing unstable blood sugar. Over time, uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious problems like vision loss, heart disease, stroke, and many other conditions.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth and underneath the gumline, which harbor harmful bacteria. If this is not removed on a regular basis, inflammation can occur. First, the gums become sensitive and may bleed during brushing and flossing. As periodontal disease progresses, the gums develop “pockets” which harbor even more bacteria. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss or introduce harmful bacteria into the bloodstream, impacting overall health.
Diabetics are More Susceptible to Gum Disease
As if diabetes wasn’t bad enough on its own, there’s a strong link between the condition and periodontal disease. Estimates suggest that diabetics are about four times as likely to develop periodontal disease as people with normal blood sugar levels, and gum disease is even considered to be a complication of diabetes. It is thought that because people with diabetes are more likely to develop infections, it is easier for the bacteria in plaque to begin causing inflammation in the gums. Once periodontal disease is established in diabetic patients, it becomes more difficult to control the diabetes and prevent complications.
Does Gum Disease Cause Diabetes?
Periodontal disease can essentially be a complication of diabetes, but does it work the other way around? Though gum disease has an impact on diabetes, can diabetes actually be caused by poor oral health? Fortunately, the answer is almost certainly no, periodontal disease itself does not cause people to become diabetic. However, having severe periodontal disease can raise overall blood sugar levels and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, it is harder to control blood sugar levels when periodontal disease is not managed, which can put diabetics at risk of serious complications. For this reason, it’s important to treat both problems at the same time and to be aware that if you do have diabetes, you’ll have to work to prevent periodontal disease on an ongoing basis.
Periodontal Care for Diabetics
If you have diabetes, you’ll need to be extra diligent about your oral health in order to prevent periodontal disease. Regular brushing, flossing, and using a mouth rinse are important for maintaining good oral health and preventing the buildup of harmful bacteria. Regular dental visits and professional cleanings are absolutely essential, and it’s a great idea to start seeing a dentist who specializes in gum disease so you can rest assured that any infections will be caught early on.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
If you already have periodontal disease, the good news is that there are many different treatment options available depending on your needs and stage of deterioration. Getting treatment for gum disease should also help you control your diabetes, benefiting your overall health. You may only need a series of deep cleanings, or you could benefit from a more in-depth procedure to heal your gums. The treatment process is customized according to your needs.
If you’re not sure where to turn for the best options in gum health, come to Drs. Gallardo for a periodontal appointment. Drs. Gallardo are renowned in the Miami area for their expertise in gum health and periodontal disease, offering world-class care and cutting-edge treatments. For more information or to schedule your appointment with the experts at our Miami office, call 305-547-8805 today.