The majority of American adults have some form of gum disease, and diabetes dramatically increases your risk. In addition, serious gum infections can make it more difficult to control your blood glucose levels. While scrupulous oral hygiene is important for everyone, it is even more critical for those with diabetes.
Why Does Diabetes Increase the Risk of Gum Disease?
High blood sugar levels make it harder for the body to fight off the bacteria that cause infection. Gum disease is inflammation of the gums due to bacterial infection. The first stage is gingivitis, which can cause swollen gums, tenderness, and bleeding when brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and eventually advanced periodontitis, in which the jawbone and tooth roots are attacked by bacteria, putting you at serious risk for tooth loss.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Diabetes?
As you may already know, it is more difficult to control your blood glucose levels when you are sick. As part of the body’s immune response to infection, blood sugar tends to rise. Gum disease is a chronic infection that can lead to a spiral in those with diabetes—as your blood sugar levels rise, your body has more trouble fighting off the infection, but as the infection lingers, your blood sugar levels continue to rise.
To prevent your health from spiraling out of control, practice careful oral hygiene. Brush your teeth after every meal if possible, or at least twice per day, and floss once per day. See your dentist twice a year.
Also work hard to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Eat a nutritious diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains, and limit your carbs. Get regular exercise and practice a healthy lifestyle. Talk your doctor and your dentist to be sure you are up to date on the latest recommendations for controlling both your blood sugar levels and your oral health.
There is a strong link between gum disease and diabetes, but you do not need to fall victim to this common condition. Taking a proactive approach to your overall health and wellbeing, as well as your oral health, can help you stay fit and healthy for many years to come.