Diabetes and Oral Health: The Link between Diabetes and Gum Disease


Diabetes and Oral Health: Diabetes by the Numbers

You may be wondering if diabetes and oral health are actually linked. We wanted to dive into that topic today…

As you are probably aware, diabetes is one of the most common and widespread diseases, affecting approximately 9.3 of the U.S. population today. Diabetes in the most basic sense is a disorder in which the person’s body is no longer able to properly react or produce the hormone known as insulin. This results in a heightened level of glucose (sugar) within the bloodstream, which if left untreated can bring about multitude of health problems or complications, some of which may be potentially fatal. Therefore, to correctly treat and manage diabetes, a diabetic must be willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes to do so.

Such changes may include:

  • Adhering to a specific diet and exercise regimen
  • Routinely monitoring one’s blood glucose levels
  • Giving up certain habits or preferences that may negatively affect the condition

Although a diabetic must face a number of obstacles in maintaining their health, one hazard that mustn’t ever be overlooked, is oral health. Oral health of course, refers the mouth and everything in it. In the case of a diabetic, if oral health is neglected or improperly cared for, the results can be catastrophic, as periodontal disease will likely interact with and thereby worsen diabetes.


Oral Health And Periodontal Disease

Oral health has historically been long overlooked by the medical field and was often dismissed as more of a nuisance rather than a legitimate medical concern. However, in recent years this perception has changed dramatically, as further research continues to discover irrefutable evidence linking oral health and various other illnesses and conditions, one of which would undeniably be diabetes.

To put it simply, if one fails to adequately care for their oral health, they run the risk of developing the condition known as periodontal disease, or otherwise known as perio or gum disease. Although gum disease is a progressive and sometimes slowly occurring disease, in the case of diabetics however, the effects of gum disease are quicker and much fiercer.

The harsh truth is that diabetics have a much higher probability of developing gum disease. If a diabetic develops gum disease, it is imperative that they receive proper care for and closely monitor both illnesses, as neglecting one will likely exacerbate the other!

For instance; if you suffer from diabetes, but fail to properly maintain your blood glucose levels, you will have elevated levels of glucose (or sugar) circulating throughout different areas in your body, especially within your mouth. In response to the heightened glucose, your mouth begins accumulating excess bacteria, which ultimately creates the ideal setting for an infection like periodontal disease to develop and flourish.

Conversely, periodontitis is a progressive bacterial infection within the gum tissue that if neglected, can severely damage or destroy your gums, teeth, and jaw. However, like any infection, gum disease may profoundly affect and destabilize you’re the blood glucose level, therefore making them increasingly difficult to control and ultimately allowing the diabetes to exponentially progress.


Diabetes and Oral Health: What to Watch For!

While the symptoms of diabetes are certainly notable, as it affects nearly all aspects of your health, if left unchecked and it may likely begin interacting with affecting your oral health almost immediately. Therefore, some of the telltale signs of this internal interaction are:

  • Sore or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Eroding gum line
  • Thrush or fungal infections
  • Prolonged or slow-healing sores or wounds
  • Teeth that may feel loose or sensitive
  • Dry mouth or burning sensation
  • Difficulty tasting certain foods
  • Jaw or facial pain
  • Persistent foul breath
  • Increased susceptibility to additional oral infections or complications


Oh, Thank Heaven! Seven Prevention Tips:

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, or know someone is, there are many tips and tricks that can be utilized to help prevent periodontal disease or reduce the likelihood of any further damage from occurring.

  1. Always remember to brush and floss:

While this may seem rather obvious, it’s important to remember that consistency is without doubt, one of the key aspects in successful maintenance of any sort, and your teeth are certainly no exception! Therefore, taking time to both brush and floss everyday is a mandatory first step when managing diabetes and oral health. Remember that sometimes its simplest things that matter most!

  1. Keep your blood glucose levels in your target range:

It’s absolutely critical that when managing diabetes and oral health you keep constant track of your A1C level, or the amount of glucose that enters your bloodstream. An A1C level of below 7 percent is generally what’s recommended; however, for specifics, you’ll need to contact your doctor.

  1. Use proper technique:

Again, this may seem obvious, but it’s very important to stress how proper technique can play a major factor when managing diabetes and oral health. Because brushing is such a routine habit, many people brush their teeth without even giving it a second thought. Yes, it IS an easy habit to get into, but by taking a few extra minuets daily to thoroughly brush not only your teeth, but your tongue as well, and then to floss afterwards can really make a big difference! Also remember brushing at least three times a day will give you the best results, when it comes to brushing three is the magic number.

  1. Make use of tools:

Fluoride rinse, dental picks, anti-plaque mouthwash, and of course dental floss, are all effective weapons that can be used to ward off gum disease and keep your mouth healthy when managing diabetes and oral health! If you feel that any such tools might be of help to you, consult your dentist for professional opinion.

  1. Schedule routine dental appointments:

To properly maintain both oral and general health, it’s imperative that you schedule routine checkups with your dentist. Generally, most dentists recommend that you make at least two appointments per year; however, as mentioned earlier diabetics are always at an increased risk of developing periodontal disease, and therefore additional appointments might be necessary. Remember Dr. Charles R. Kimes and his expert team at Overland Park Dentistry is your best friend when it comes to managing your diabetes and oral health, so be sure to tell them that you have diabetes, and let them know of any changers or concerns.

Related Article: Dental Appointment: Why Twice a Year?

  1. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise:

While certainly sticking to a healthy diet and exercising is a great idea for anyone, when managing diabetes and oral health it becomes just that much more important. Whether signing up for a gym membership, or just taking the time once a day to walk or jog, finding a way to stay active is the key to not only healthier life, bur a happier one too!

  1. Don’t Smoke:

It’s no secret by now that smoking is bad for you. Smoking can certainly put you at risk for gum disease and additional complications with diabetes. If you are unable to quit and need help, contact your doctor for assistance.


Overland Park Dentistry: Always Your Ally

While diabetes is obviously not an issue to take lightly, the purpose of this information is not to scare you, but rather to inform you of the potential health hazards of untreated diabetes, particularly that of gum disease and its often-dangerous relationship with diabetes. Here at Overland Park Dentistry, we want you to know that despite its serious nature, there are many methods to successfully managing and overcoming this diabetes/gum disease combo, and numerous sources are available to help you as well! At Overland Park Dentistry we hope to be a valuable source and a powerful ally of yours in this scenario, so if you have any further questions or concerns, please contact us at Overland Park Dentistry!

Related Article: Your Overland Park Dentist: Charles R. Kimes, DDS

Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS and his expert team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with any preventativerestorative or cosmetic needs you or your family may have. To schedule your dental appointment with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.

Overland Park Dentistry
Even though going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things to do, my experience with Dr. Kimes have always been good. They are both very kind and considerate and try to treat you as painlessly as possible.