Yes, diabetes and periodontal disease—also known as gum disease—are linked to each other!
Diabetes—a condition in which the body doesn’t make or use insulin, or blood sugar, properly—can make it more difficult to prevent gum disease, and gum disease can increase your risk for complications from diabetes.
But what exactly is the relationship between these two disorders? Here’s what you need to know about diabetes and periodontal disease.
If You Have Diabetes, You’re More Likely to Get Gum Disease
People with type 2 diabetes tend to have high blood sugar, which can encourage harmful bacteria to proliferate in your oral cavity. These bacteria can increase your risk for gum disease by causing more plaque growth in your mouth.
While the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, can usually be reversed with a deep cleaning, advancing periodontal disease tends to be harder to treat. In addition, patients with diabetes may have trouble getting their gum disease under control.
Diabetes can also make it more likely for people to experience infections such as the active infection seen in periodontal disease .
Patients With Untreated Diabetes Are Especially at Risk
Untreated or undiagnosed diabetes is not only dangerous for your health, but can put you at even higher risk for gum disease. High blood sugar can make infection both more likely and harder to treat. Patients who have poorly-controlled blood sugar tend to have worse cases of periodontal disease, including severely inflamed gum tissue, bleeding, and tooth loss .
Can Periodontal Disease Make Diabetes Worse?
The relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes is complex, but in general, gum disease can make diabetes worse.
Gum disease increases blood sugar by triggering an immune response to the bacteria involved in gum disease. Infections such as periodontal disease create a stress reaction that can cause the body to increase cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase the production of glucose .
So just as periodontal disease can make diabetes worse, so diabetes can make periodontal disease worse. Experts are still understanding the link, but there are ways you can protect yourself from gum disease if you have diabetes!
How You Can Help Protect Your Teeth and Gums
Whether or not you have diabetes, you can help keep gum disease away by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist every six months. If you have diabetes, it’s essential to take care of yourself and receive treatment as necessary to help protect your body and your smile.
If you live with diabetes and are considered to be at high risk for gum disease, your dentist may suggest you come in more often for checkups and cleanings to help prevent periodontal disease and help keep your diabetes under control.
With what we know about the link between periodontal disease and diabetes, managing your risk for gum disease as well as your diabetes is essential to your health. Always keep your dental appointments to support your oral health, as they may help support your diabetes management as well!