What You'll Learn Here:
Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes can be triggered by chronic, low-grade inflammation.1 So as unlikely as it may seem, inflammation in the oral cavity – especially in the gums – can have a negative effect on blood glucose. High blood sugar levels can lead to gum disease and vice versa. The bottom line…poor diabetes management can increase your risk for gum disease and tooth loss.
The Stats on Diabetes and Dental Disease
Many people may be unaware that adults with diabetes are twice as likely to have problems with their teeth and gums as those without.2 People with diabetes often suffer from gum disease, tooth decay, fungal disease, and other mouth problems. Nearly one third of those with diabetes have severe periodontal disease with loss of attachment of the gums to the teeth measuring five millimeters or more.3
How Are Diabetes and Dental Disease Linked?
Diabetics are unable to produce or properly use insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas that unlocks the cells of the body, enabling glucose to enter and fuel them – so glucose accumulates in the blood. High glucose levels can damage nerves, leading to blood vessel hardening. This can prevent blood from flowing efficiently, impairing circulation as well as the body’s ability to fight infection.
When the blood vessels that once adequately supplied oxygen and nutrients to the gums and jawbone cease to function effectively, the gums are more likely to develop infection and/or become loose. Loose gums increase the likelihood of lost teeth. Furthermore, blood sugar is difficult to control when the gums are infected.
Symptoms of Dental Disease
If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your dentist:
- A bad taste in your mouth
- A change in the way you bite
- Bad breath that extends over a long period of time
- Gums that shrink or pull away from your teeth (a sign of periodontitis, a disease that attacks the gums and bone around the teeth)
- Loose or separating adult teeth
- Mouth pain
- Sore, swollen, and red gums that bleed when you brush your teeth (a sign of gingivitis or inflammation of the gums)
- Trouble chewing
Preventing Dental Disease: Caring for Your Teeth and Gums
People with diabetes are more prone to infection than those without. Controlling blood glucose levels and maintaining healthy teeth and gums work to support one another. Comprehensive dental care goes a long way to preventing dental disease and, by extension, preventing high glucose levels, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
Control blood glucose (sugar) levels
Keep glucose levels as close to the normal range as possible.
Brush your teeth regularly…
- …for at least three minutes
- at least twice a day
- after each meal; and
- before going to bed
- use a soft toothbrush
- with fluoridated toothpaste; and
- rinse your toothbrush after each use to prevent bacterial from developing
- store toothbrush with the bristle end up; and
- replace toothbrush every three months
…at least once each day
See a dental professional…
- …at least every six months
- see a periodontist once a year; and
- tell both your dentist and periodontist that you have diabetes