Diabetes and Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that is characterized by high blood sugar levels over a long period of time. The body breaks down food into a sugar called glucose, and insulin is a hormone that helps the body’s cells to use this glucose as energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body is resistant to it. Insufficient insulin leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage the nerves, kidneys, and eyes. Diabetes can also cause strokes and heart disease.
What is periodontal (gum) disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold the teeth in place. It is usually caused by poor flossing and brushing habits that permit plaque to develop on the teeth. Advanced periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums, trouble chewing, and tooth loss. It may also cause bad breath.
People with diabetes are prone to gum irritation. Individuals with both diabetes and gum disease are more likely to have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels than diabetics with healthy gums. Individuals with diabetes are more at risk of contracting infections, such as periodontal disease.
Does periodontal disease affect diabetes?
Research has shown that gum disease may make it more troublesome for individuals who have diabetes to control their blood sugar levels. Having a severe gum infection may contribute to increases in blood sugar levels. Infections in the gums can seep into the circulatory system and disrupt the body’s defense mechanisms, influencing blood sugar levels. Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to fight infections, and severe gum disease may make diabetes harder to control.
The thickening of veins is another problem that diabetes individuals are prone to that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. Blood vessels nourish the body’s tissues, transport oxygen, and carrying away waste. Diabetes leads to thickening of the veins, which disrupts the flow of nutrients and the discharge of waste. This can make gum and bone tissue more vulnerable to infection.
When diabetes is inadequately controlled, high sugar levels in saliva may enable germs to thrive, setting the stage for periodontal disease. Individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to bacterial infections, and high blood sugar levels make it easier for bacteria to survive in the mouth.
Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.