The mouth is often referred to as the gateway to the body – controlling not only what enters our bodies, but also influencing our overall health. This connection between mouth and body becomes fully illustrated when examining the link between diabetes and gum disease.
According to studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who suffer from diabetes have double the risk of developing gum disease. In fact, nearly one-third of all diabetics suffer from severe gum disease, a condition referred to periodontal disease.
When you develop periodontal disease, your gums begin to recede away from the base of your teeth and pockets begin to form. These pockets then fill with pus and germs, while continuing to deepen. When this occurs, you may need to undergo surgery on your gums in order to save your teeth. When left untreated, the infection that has developed will destroy the bone that holds your teeth into position. Your teeth may then start to become loose, fall out, or need to be extracted.
To many of the 26 million Americans that suffer from diabetes, the relationship between diabetes and gum disease may come as a surprise. However, research has shown that individuals with diabetes have an increased risk of developing serious gum disease, which places periodontal disease along side kidney disease, stroke, and heart disease as serious complications connected with diabetes.
A Two-Way Connection
Emerging evidence also suggests a two-way relationship exits between diabetes and gum disease. Not only do individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, gum disease may also negatively impact the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels, which further contributes to an individual’s risk of developing diabetes.
Studies have found that individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of developing oral health problems, such as early stage gum disease and periodontal disease. Individuals with diabetes have an increased risk for developing periodontal disease due to their increased susceptibility to bacterial infection, and an impaired ability to fight bacteria that infects the gums.
Diabetes and the Risk of Dental Problems
If you suffer from poorly controlled blood sugar levels, you have an increased risk of developing a serious form of gum disease and of losing more teeth when compared to non-diabetics. Like any infection, advanced gum disease may contribute to elevated blood sugar levels and make controlling your diabetes more difficult.
Additional oral problems commonly associated with diabetes include: thrush, an infection caused by a fungal growth in the mouth, and dry mouth, which can cause soreness, infections, ulcers, and cavities.
Maintaining Your Oral Health
Maintaining your oral health when suffering from diabetes means controlling your blood sugar levels. Eating a balanced diet can help lower your blood sugar levels and better control your diabetes. Once your blood sugar levels become balanced, you significantly reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
Of course, you also need to take good care of your teeth and gums to prevent the onset of disease. Good oral hygiene requires that you brush and floss daily, and schedule routine dental checkups. If you wear dentures, make sure to remove and clean them daily, as well.