The link between diabetes and gum disease

by | Oct 19, 2023


Diabetes is a disease that affects all areas of our health including our dental and oral health because people who suffer with it have a higher chance of getting dry mouth. This is a condition when you do not generate enough saliva or fluids to keep the mouth moist which leads to conditions such as an infection called mouth thrush, gum disease and other issues such as ulcers and tooth decay. There is a definite link between gum disease and diabetes which is recognised by dental experts because diabetes causes additional complications by increasing sugar levels in the saliva, which slows down any healing processes.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease also called periodontal disease is a serious infection of the gums and bones at times, that damages soft tissue and is generally most common with people with high blood sugar levels. People with diabetes can find a bacterial growth in the mouth which starts with gum inflammation or gingivitis. This is the stage before it becomes periodontitis, which is treatable if detected early. If you have diabetes and do not brush your teeth regularly it allows a stickly film of bacteria or plaque to build up which releases acids that attach to your tooth enamel.

Periodontal disease causes the bone to pull away from the teeth and form pockets into which food debris collect and become infected, which produces toxins. These toxins are attacked by our immune systems which affect the connective tissues that hold the teeth in place. If the disease is allowed to worsen then it destroys the tissue and bone causing the teeth to no longer be anchored to the gums resulting in possible tooth loss.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

There are some common symptoms that can indicate the beginning of gum disease. If you start to experience any of the below it is best to consult a dentist as soon as possible.

  • Swollen and red gums
  • Bleeding when brushing and flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums

If you continue to ignore symptoms such as these it can lead to a persistent bad taste in your mouth along with shrinking gums causing teeth to loosen which can lead to tooth loss, while also causing bone damage.

Exploring the link between gum disease and diabetes

Diabetes and periodontal disease are linked as said before because high blood glucose levels affects our saliva which increases dryness in our mouths. This directly impacts our oral health and when there is less saliva there is less protection allowing bacteria to breed. Similarly, not looking after your oral health increases your risk towards developing heart disease and/or diabetes.

How does diabetes affect your dental health?

When you have diabetes it means you have high blood sugar levels which affects the sugar ratio in your saliva as well. The bacteria in your mouth uses this increased sugar as food and multiples affecting oral health including causing tooth decay and cavities not to mention the excess oral bacteria that can affect overall health. High blood glucose levels causes dry mouth which lessens the significant protection provided to teeth from our saliva. When dry mouth persists it makes swallowing, chewing and even talking difficult while making you more prone to fungal infections because saliva helps keep harmful germs in check.

What happens to your blood sugar levels when you get gum infections?

When you get gum disease it causes gum infection which can lead to high blood sugar levels which then causes even higher risks for diabetic patients. Along with blood sugar control, treating gum disease early is the best way to control blood sugar levels being affected.

What are the factors that place diabetes patients at higher risk for gum disease?

While diabetic patients are naturally prone to more oral health issues there are certain lifestyle choices that can make the situation worse and cause diabetic people to be even more susceptible to gum disease. Poor oral hygiene is the main cause of oral and dental health issues because daily oral hygiene habits are important to maintain healthy teeth. Habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco have a terribly adverse impact on your oral health including increasing the risk of developing gum problems, tooth decay and possibly even oral cancer. If you are a person with diabetes then it would be in your best interest to stop any bad habits that can increase your chances of developing gum disease.

Gum disease treatment at Nine Elms and Canary Wharf

Our team of periodontists are well equipped with the in depth knowledge, expertise and technology to diagnose and effectively treat periodontal disease. The treatments we provide have helped our patients regain their oral health and their confident smiles. Our state of the art dental clinics provide comprehensive treatments for periodontal disease, so that you will always be advised on the right option for your needs. After assessing you our periodontists will recommend the correct treatment for you that could consist of deep cleaning under the gums, gum surgery, dental implant treatments, bone grafting and if necessary tooth extractions. They will even prescribe antibiotics if needed.

Restore your oral and dental health with our proven treatments and enjoy a better quality of life away from the physical and mental discomfort of suffering with gum disease.