Dental Health Living Well

How Gum Disease Affects Blood Glucose Control

When you think diabetes, do you think about gum disease? If not, you should. Nearly 30 million people in this country have diabetes, and there is also an increase in gum disease among this population.
If you’re a sufferer, know this: Diabetes may weaken your mouth’s ability to fight germs. High blood sugar levels can make it easier for existing gum disease to get worse. And gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise, making diabetes harder to control.
Research shows some of the germs in infected gums leak into the bloodstream, causing harmful irritation throughout your body. A rise in blood sugar is an example of these harmful effects.
Gum disease takes various forms, including:

  • Gingivitis, an early stage, which happens when plaque build-up on teeth and gums produces toxins from bacteria that irritates the gums. This can cause the gums to be inflamed or bleed.
  • Periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease, occurs when gums begin to pull away from teeth and germs fill the empty space.

If not taken care of properly, gum disease could result in tooth loss. Though it is often painless, there are signs:

  • Your gums are red, tender or swollen.
  • Your gums bleed when you floss or brush.
  • Your gums have pulled away from your teeth. You may see part of the roots or your teeth may look longer.
  • Your permanent teeth are loose or you notice them moving away from each other.
  • You have pus between the teeth and gums.
  • You have bad breath.
Related:
Hepatitis C Diaries: Sharing Your Diagnosis With Those Close to You

The good news is you can prevent oral health issues by following these tips:

  • Take care of your teeth and gums by brushing at least twice a day, or after every meal if possible. Floss once a day.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Remove and clean dentures daily.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups every six months. Keep him or her informed that you have diabetes and what medications you take to manage your condition.

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