Understanding the diabetes and gum disease link

Incisive Bite

by Dr Sharon Robinson

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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DO you know that there is a link between diabetes and gum disease? Diabetics have a higher risk of developing gum disease than people who have healthy blood sugar levels.

The relationship appears to go both ways. Research indicates that having a serious gum infection can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Taking care of your mouth, whether you have diabetes or not, is more important than you may be aware.

What causes the increased gum disease risk?

What do high blood glucose levels have to do with your oral health? For a person with diabetes it is more difficult to defend the body from a bacterial infection; high glucose levels make it easier for bacteria to flourish in the mouth.

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums caused by a bacterial infection. The germs in plaque infect the teeth and gums, leading to gingivitis, the first stage of this disease. If left untreated, this oral health condition can result in tissue damage and eventual tooth loss. The more serious stages of gum disease are known as periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.

How does periodontitis affect diabetes?

The relationship between diabetes and gum disease becomes even more powerful when you look at the potential effect of an infection on blood glucose levels. Having a serious infection may contribute to rising blood sugar levels. This means that not only does having diabetes make an infection harder to fight, but also having serious gum disease may make diabetes harder to control. What can be done to prevent your health from spiralling out of control?

Even if you don't have blood glucose problems or periodontitis, you should still make your oral and overall health priority. Brush twice a day and floss once a day before bedtime. Use a toothpaste which works to fight plaque bacteria and improve the health of your gums. Keep up with your biannual dental check-ups. Talk to your dental professional about eating a nutritious diet, including foods like fresh veggies and whole grains to nourish your teeth and gums and to help control blood sugar levels.

If you do have diabetes, then work to keep your blood glucose levels under control.

Things like regular exercise, healthy eating, and healthy lifestyle habits can help to manage this disease. Also, talk to your dentist about your health and any medications that you may be taking. While these two conditions may make each other more difficult to control, there is still a lot that you can do to prevent and manage both diabetes and gum disease.

Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 630-4710. Like theirFacebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa for an opportunity to take advantage of weekly specials.

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