Nearly 30 million people have diabetes in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – that’s about 1 out of every 10 people. Plenty of people understand the impact of diabetes on the kidneys, eyes and nerves, but not everyone knows the disease can also take a serious toll on your teeth and gums.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is caused by a bacterial infection that invades the areas around the tooth root, including the bone tissue that supports the tooth. Over time, these bacteria can cause tooth roots to become weak and loose, eventually causing the tooth to fall out. The infections caused by gum disease often spread to the jaw bone, compromising the health not just of one affected tooth, but of the teeth on either side of the diseased tooth as well.
People with diabetes are at greater risk for periodontal disease because of two primary factors: First, blood sugar levels in people with uncontrolled diabetes tend to be higher than normal, and the bacteria that cause gum disease thrive on those sugars, resulting in more extensive infections. And second, people with diabetes also often have problems fighting infection, which means bacteria are able to grow and spread more easily.
The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is a two-way street – that is, not only can diabetes increase the likelihood of developing periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can actually contribute to diabetes, making it harder to control blood glucose levels. That’s because infections – and the body’s responses to them – can actually result in increased blood sugar levels, which can make it even harder to control diabetes and its harmful side effects.
Preventing Diabetes-Related Gum Disease
If you have diabetes, one of the most important things you can do to prevent gum disease – and tooth loss – is to do all you can to keep your glucose levels under control. Managing blood sugar levels deprives bacteria or the sugars they need to grow and thrive, so the risk of gum disease is decreased.
The second most important step you can take to prevent gum disease is to have regular dental checkups and cleanings – at least once every six months, and more often if your diabetes is not well managed or if you already have the signs of early gum disease, like swollen, tender gums or bleeding gums. Having routine dental cleanings removes deposits of plaque and tartar that harbor bacteria, and it also provides your dentist with an opportunity to look for early signs of disease and damage so treatment can be initiated as soon as possible. Gum disease treatment has been shown to improve glycemic control, which means early gum disease treatment can actually help you manage your diabetes more effectively.
And finally, home care is important too. Brush and floss regularly (ask your hygienist if your techniques need improvement), and if you smoke, quit – smoking causes additional damage to blood vessels, which can significantly increase your risk of developing serious gum disease, not to mention taking a major toll on your overall health and wellness.
Empire Dental Group: A Leader in Periodontal Care in NJ
As a top dentist in NJ, Empire Dental Group specializes in state-of-the-art care and treatment for gum disease, helping patients with (and without) diabetes avoid gum disease and the serious complications it can cause. In its early stages, gum disease often causes very subtle symptoms that are difficult – or impossible – to detect on your own. Having routine dental checkups is the best way to “catch” gum disease and treat it before it causes major problems. To schedule your checkup and cleaning, call Empire Dental Group at 732-607-0909 today.
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