Diabetes and gum disease are connected. Having diabetes can substantially increase your chances of having gum disease. If you are already a gum disease patient, the chances of developing diabetes also increase.
As diabetes suppresses your immune system, developing a gum disease like Periodontitis is heightened.
Did you know that approximately 29 million individuals in the US have diabetes, and over 8 million people don’t even know they have it?
Moreover, Gum disease is categorized as the fifth complication of diabetes, which implies that if you are a gum disease patient, you may be at risk of developing diabetes! Additionally, over 64 million people are at risk of developing diabetes, as gum disease affects around half of all Americans over 30 years old.
Keep reading to learn more about the connection between diabetes and gum diseases and what you can do to maintain your oral hygiene and reduce any health risks.
What is diabetes?
A trio of typical symptoms characterizes diabetes; polyuria, polyphagia, and polydipsia, accompanied by chronic exhaustion and weight loss. Diabetes affects many parts of your body; neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, and cardiac diseases are consequences of diabetes.
People with diabetes mellitus are at a greater risk of gum diseases because diabetes causes changes in the blood vessels. It thickens the blood, restricting the flow of nutrients throughout the body and eliminating wastes from the body. This results in weakened bones and gums, increasing the risk of infection.
Moreover, if diabetes isn’t controlled, the increased blood sugar levels and glucose in the mouth encourage bacteria development, which can cause gum disease. Smoking is also very harmful to an individual’s oral hygiene but even more so for diabetic people.
However, untreated gum diseases can cause blood sugar levels to rise, which consequently promotes diabetes and make it even harder to control blood sugar levels.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the buildup and development of oral bacteria on teeth that destroys the tissues that support the tooth.
Periodontitis and Gingivitis are the two main types of periodontal disorders. Gingivitis is the inflammation of gingival tissue, whereas Periodontitis is defined by the deterioration of tooth-supporting structures and can result in tooth loss. Gingivitis is necessary for the development of Periodontitis, but this is not important in all cases. In some instances, Gingivitis never transforms into Periodontitis. This is because bacterial plaque formation is required to start both conditions, but Periodontitis requires individual predisposition.
The causative factors of periodontal disorders are bacteria in conjunction with specific antibody responses and external conditions. Gingivitis is caused by plaque deposition on teeth. Still, the host’s vulnerability determines the severity of inflammation and damage to the periodontal tissues that support teeth.
Bacteria in the mouth can harm periodontium by producing degrading enzymes and chemicals that damage host cells. The expansion of the inflammation to deeper sections of the connective tissue marks the change from Gingivitis to Periodontitis. However, the cause behind this is not widely understood. In periodontal fibrous tissue, the bacterial contamination or their byproducts, such as lipopolysaccharides, could be an etiopathogenesis process. They may activate the immune system by producing inflammatory cytokines and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), significant inflammatory events regulators. Secondary mediators are produced in response to the inflammation, amplifying the inflammatory reaction.
Types of Gum Diseases
Scientists at different stages diagnose gum disease. The initial stage is called Gingivitis, which progresses into mild Periodontitis and can lead to advanced Periodontitis.
Gum disease in this stage is the mildest. Gums become swollen, red, and sensitive. With daily regular cleaning and flossing, they might bleed easily. Gingivitis can be prevented with dental treatment and proper, regular home maintenance.
Gingivitis that is not managed leads to moderate Periodontitis. Gums tear away from the teeth at this phase of gum disease. A pocket forms in between the gums and the teeth as a result. Bacteria can colonize this area and result in early bone loss around the teeth. Further damage can be avoided with timely medical attention.
Untreated gum diseases progress into the advanced stage of Periodontitis, where gum pockets become deeper, causing bulging gums and significant bone loss. Your teeth may shift in relation to one another, making biting difficult. Teeth may become loose and require extraction.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
The following are the most prevalent gum disease symptoms:
- Gums that are red, swollen, and inflamed
- Bleeding during flossing and brushing
- Persisting bad breath (chronic)
- Odd taste in your mouth
- Gum recession
- Teeth that are separating or loose
- A shift in the jaws and biting position
- Uncomfortable dentures that don’t fit
- Pus between gums and teeth
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult with a dentist immediately.
Gum Disease and Heart Problems
Studies show that gum disease and poor oral hygiene have also been linked with heart diseases.
- Periodontitis is connected with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Poor oral hygiene can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream through infected gums and cause heart valve damage. If you have prosthetic heart valves, your oral health is incredibly vital.
- Coronary artery disease is associated with tooth loss patterns.
- There is a clear link between heart disease and diabetes. There is evidence that periodontal treatment benefits people with diabetes.
Treatment and Diagnosis of Gum Disease
A dentist may inquire about your medical history, current medications, and any other medical issues you might have had to identify periodontal disease. It’s critical to tell your dentist about your diabetes history, specifically how effectively your blood sugar is regulated.
Aside from this, the dentist will examine your mouth to check for symptoms such as:
- Any gums inflammation
- Use a probe to measure pockets around the teeth
- Perform x-rays to see whether there is any bone loss.
Suppose there is a presence of gum disease. In that case, your dentist might refer you to a periodontist for specialized diagnosis and treatment.
There are a few ways gum disease can be treated:
- Deep Cleaning: during the initial stages of the disease, scaling and root canal therapy can be used to remove plaque, tartar, and damaged tissue. This procedure can also smoothen the damaged root surface of the teeth. After the procedures are complete, the gums can attach to the teeth again.
- Surgery: in advanced cases, the infected tissues behind the gums will have to be cleaned. The tissue will have to be replaced or reshaped. Surgical procedures include crown lengthening, tissue regeneration, pocket reduction, and soft-tissue draft.
- Medicine: antibacterial medications can be taken either by mouth or applied to the gum tissue to reduce pockets.
- Dental implants: These can be used to replace missing teeth permanently. They can also be used to secure dentures. If you have dentures, they should fit comfortably and not loosely.
What Does Diabetes Mellitus Have to Do With My Oral Hygiene?
Diabetes makes patients more vulnerable to gum disease, infections, dental problems, and cavities. Moreover, oral issues can worsen an individual’s diabetes.
According to the ADA (American Dental Association), gum diseases can elevate a person’s blood sugar levels. People with healthy gums and those with gum disease were compared in research which showed that people who had gum disease had increased blood sugar levels.
Research suggests that inflamed gum tissue makes it easier for hazardous oral germs to enter the bloodstream. The bacteria circulate in your blood cause your immune system to generate chemicals that elevate blood sugar levels. Furthermore, dangerous bacteria can enter your bloodstream by merely brushing your teeth or eating.
Good oral hygiene will help you control your diabetes and help you avoid diabetes-related health concerns like kidney or heart diseases.
Diabetes harms gums and teeth by changing the saliva inside the mouth. Saliva is a crucial fluid present in the mouth and prevents dental decay by removing food particles, neutralizing bacterial acids, and hindering the growth of germs.
Diabetes causes salivary glands to reduce saliva production, which leads to cavities, mouth infections, and gum diseases.
Additionally, when blood sugar levels are high, the glucose content in saliva also increases. The sugar in saliva can fuel dangerous bacteria, which then merge with food to form plaque. This soft, sticky coating causes cavities. Suppose you don’t brush your teeth regularly. In that case, plaque can build up around your gum tissue and solidify into tartar, leading to gum disease.
Suppose these issues are left untreated and unattended. In that case, they can lead to severe tooth loss and other dental complications that are highly uncomfortable and painful.
Other Oral Problems
The problems linked with diabetes don’t just end here. Many other problems are a consequence of diabetes and affect the mouth; these include:
- A burning sensation: unregulated blood sugar levels can cause a burning sensation in your mouth.
- Thrush: thrush is a fungus that affects the mouth. It occurs more frequently in diabetic people due to the increased glucose level in the saliva. The sugar acts as a fuel to the fungus.
- Parched mouth: one of the symptoms of diabetes is a dry mouth. A dry mouth suggests there isn’t enough saliva inside the mouth to keep it moist. Saliva not only aids digestion but also helps stop tooth decay and infections by eliminating fungi and germs.
A dry mouth makes it harder to taste, chew, and swallow food. It can also cause oral infections and tooth damage and affect your speech.
Parched, sticky lips, dry mouth, rough tongue, burning sensation, mouth sores, or infections are symptoms of a dry mouth. The underlying cause determines dry mouth treatments. Medication, sickness, chemotherapy, or other salivary gland or nerve injury can cause dry mouth. Here are some suggestions to aid you with dry mouth complaints:
- Drink plenty of water or sugar-free liquids.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Avoid salty or spicy foods.
- Stay hydrated during mealtime.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Turn on a humidifier at night.
- Use medication to keep your mouth moist (but a dentist should prescribe it)
- Chew sugar-free candies or sugar-free gum.
As the expression goes, prevention is better than cure; it is especially true for oral hygiene. Taking special care of your gums and teeth can prevent Periodontitis and other gum diseases connected with diabetes. These suggestions will help you take proper care of your teeth and gums:
Brushing – brush your teeth twice daily, morning and night, with fluoride toothpaste and a soft nylon toothbrush with nylon bristles. Use short back-and-forth strokes and some circular motions, and always brush your tongue.
Flossing – a dental floss should be around 18 inches long. The correct method of flossing is not using a sawing motion, instead, wrap the floss around the teeth and pull it up and down from the gum line to the crown of the tooth numerous times. Rinse thoroughly once done.
Avoid acidic drinks – Avoid acidic beverages such as energy drinks, soda, and lemon water. These can eat away at your teeth’s enamel, causing decay.
Make your dentist your best friend; they will provide you with excellent oral and dental care, but they will also help you fight against diabetes. Several research studies suggest that periodontal treatments can help lower blood glucose levels. These studies indicate that diabetic patients can benefit from dental and medical practitioners working together to treat their diabetes.
Suppose you are a resident of Sacramento, California. In that case, you may want to consider visiting our dental clinic, where we provide exceptional gum disease treatments. Depending on how severe the condition is, our dentists offer dental cleaning, scaling, root canals, surgeries, or any other treatment that you may require. We work hard to help you regain your dental health and stop conditions from progressing.