There are certain medical conditions that can affect your gum health and make you more susceptible to gum disease. Periodontal disease and diabetes, unfortunately, often go hand in hand. Following many medical studies over several decades, the link between diabetes and gum disease has been shown time and time again.
If you have either type I or type II diabetes, or even gestational diabetes, you have a much increased chance of developing gingivitis or more advanced gum health issues such as periodontitis. It is therefore important that all diabetics understand how gum diseases such as periodontitis develop; why they are at increased risk of the condition and what they can do in order to protect their oral health.
It is essential for the more than 26 million Americans who have diabetes to understand how their health condition can make them vulnerable to developing further health issues, such as gum disease. By possessing knowledge about this condition, they are in a powerful position to prevent it from ever occurring.
There is also some scientific evidence to suggest that diabetes may not only lead to increased chance of developing gum disease, but that developing gum disease may also affect blood glucose and increase your chances of developing diabetes. This link is yet to be fully established, but it offers a further incentive to maintain an excellent routine for dental health.
What causes gum diseases?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that inflames the gum line. Bacteria are usually the culprit for gum disease. The problem is exacerbated by the increase of tartar and plaque on the teeth and in the crevices of the gums. Overtime the infection can also cause problems with the teeth and even gum bone. There are two key phases of gum disease – gingivitis, which is the initial and milder phase of the condition and periodontal disease, which is the advanced and much more serious phase.
Gingivitis occurs when bacteria leftover from the food that you eat release toxins and cause an infection. This begins to affect the gum tissue and causes symptoms such as:
- foul breath
- bad taste in the mouth
- bleeding gums
- dark red coloured gums
Gingivitis is easily treated and reversed without causing serious or long-lasting dental health problems. However, if it is ignored it will eventually become periodontal disease, which can lead to lasting dental problems.
Periodontal disease may produce the following symptoms:
- Loose or wobbly teeth
- Pus on the gum line
- Loss of teeth
- Receding gums
- Pockets of gum tissue
This stage of the condition is serious and requires professional dental attention. You may require some surgery in order to restore gum health and overcome the condition. If the infection is left to its own devices at this stage, you are likely to lose teeth, develop infection in the bone and it can even affect your heart health.
Normally gum disease is prevented simply by following a good home oral health routine. This should include cleaning your gums and teeth twice every day, flossing and using a natural mouthwash with a scientifically formulated mix of botanical oils such as almond, peppermint, and spearmint, which have antibacterial properties. Such a routine will remove most of the bacteria that cause gum disease and leave your mouth fresh and clean.
Why do diabetics have increased risk of developing the condition?
Diabetics generally have a heightened risk of developing gum disease because they are more likely, as a rule, to develop bacterial infections. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Diabetics generally do not have circulation that is as effective as non-diabetics. Good blood circulation is needed to remove toxins from the gum tissue and deliver nutrients that lead to healthy gum tissue.
- The bacteria that create problems love to feed on sugar. In diabetics who have poorly controlled blood sugar levels, the amount of sugar in the blood can encourage oral bacterial growth.
- Diabetics tend to have diminished immune function, which means that they have more trouble than non-diabetics at fighting off bacterial infection.
People with diabetes are also more likely to develop some other oral health problems such as oral thrush, cavities, dry mouth and mouth ulcers. It is, therefore, imperative that diabetics make looking after their teeth and gums a priority.
How diabetics can prevent developing gum disease
Diabetics can and should do several things to prevent developing gum disease:
- Oral hygiene – follow a good dental health routine every day, which should include brushing at least two times, but preferably three times a day; flossing your teeth every day and using an alcohol free mouthwash.
- Control blood sugar levels – it is important to maintain steady blood sugar levels in order to avoid developing gum disease as well as many other potential health conditions to which you are more susceptible as a diabetic. Ensure you visit your endocrinologist regularly so that blood sugar levels are being controlled and monitored in the most effective way possible.
- Cut down on processed foods – processed foods are higher in sugar, sodium and fats and lower in nutrients that you need to fight off infection and build healthy gum tissue.
- Drink plenty of water to flush away bacteria from the mouth.
- Visit your dentist regularly – your dentist is able to see the signs of periodontal gum disease before you notice the symptoms. It is therefore important to visit your dentist for a check-up every six months. They are also able to remove plaque and tartar that can lead to gum disease.
- Use appropriate dental products – some dental products out there are not actually all that good for your oral health. Make sure you select toothpastes and mouthwashes that are free from alcohol and sodium lauryl sulphate. Natural products are good alternatives.
Periodontal disease and diabetes are seen together all too often by dentists. But, by following the above advice, you can protect your oral health. By being proactive about your health, you can prevent potentially serious conditions such as periodontitis, which often affect diabetics.