Monday, August 17, 2009

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Gum Disease is often called the sixth complication of diabetes. People with uncontrolled diabetes are especially at risk because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections.

A study in the November issue of the Journal of Periodontology found if you have poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to develop gum disease than diabetics whose disease is well controlled. Other studies have suggested that if you have severe gum disease, you’ll be more than three times as likely to have fatal heart or kidney disease.* If you have type 2 diabetes you should be especially careful about your dental hygiene.

A two-way street

Diabetes can cause gum disease, and gum disease can worsen diabetes, making it harder to control blood sugar, and putting you at increased risk for complications. If you have diabetes, it is extremely important to maintain a regimen of excellent, regular oral care to ward off gum disease and the risks that come with it.

Diabetes increases the potential for infection in many of the body’s systems, including the mouth. Diabetics with poor blood sugar control often have gum disease more frequently and more severely, and often lose more teeth than diabetics with good control. Poor blood sugar control increases glucose levels in your saliva, feeding the bacteria in your mouth and setting the stage for gum disease.

Avoid smoking

Smoking is also a factor in gum disease. If you are a diabetic who smokes, and you’re over 45 years of age, you are 20 times more likely to develop severe tooth loss, bone loss and gum disease.

A checklist of symptoms to watch for

· Sore or bleeding gums
· Tooth Loss
· Poor wound healing
· Oral diseases and infections
· Cavities
· Tongue pain
· Dry or burning sensation in your mouth
· Things don’t taste right

Treatment for mild gum disease

If the damage is not yet advanced, a deep cleaning called scaling and root planning will remove tartar and infected tissue underneath the gum line. It will help smooth the teeth’s damaged root surfaces, allowing your gums to grow back close against the teeth, closing the little pockets where bacteria thrive. Your dentist might suggest a special mouthrinse or antibiotic to help in controlling any infection.

Keep in mind that scaling and root planing will only work if you stick to good daily brushing and flossing. If you fall down on that job, you’ll be going backwards as fast as the dental work brings you forward.

Treatment for advanced gum disease

You might need to have gum surgery. This would clean out the infected areas underneath the gums, then reshape or replace any bone that has been damaged. It would help you save your teeth from falling out or having to be removed.

As a diabetic, you’re at increased risk for many things, and tooth damage or loss is one of those things that you can prevent. Be very faithful in your daily dental hygiene and twice-yearly check-up and cleaning visits. Also, perhaps re-think your choice of dentist. Dentistry has changed out of sight in recent years, becoming much more technologically sophisticated.

By. Patricia Woloch


  1. I didn't realize that there was a connection between gum disease and diabetes. Both my mother and sister have diabetes and it seems like they are more at risk for everything across the board. Hopefully they can avoid this at all costs. That is the last thing they need.

  2. It's important to realize that gum disease is an illness that can affect not only dogs but also cats as well. Ironically the same treatment used in humans is also applicable in dogs too