Diabetes has been called a “silent killer” because it does not produce obvious symptoms until it is quite severe. It can wreak havoc on a number of bodily systems and drastically affect an individual’s quality of life. It even has a strong correlation with gum disease. Gum disease, in turn, can have a detrimental effect on controlling Diabetes. In this post, we will discuss how this vicious cycle works and how you can take control of both your oral and overall well-being.
Diabetes and Gum Disease… How One Affects the Other
There are a few different ways in which diabetes can contribute to gum disease:
- Uncontrolled Diabetes reduces blood flow to the gums, which robs the gums of important nutrients and hinders the body’s ability to fight off infections. This makes it easy for bacteria that sneak beneath the gum line to cause harmful inflammation.
- The same lack of blood flow makes healing difficult, so bleeding and puffy gums become harder to heal.
- High blood sugar levels can lead to dry mouth. Without enough saliva to rinse away bacteria and food particles, individuals are at a greater risk of plaque buildup in the mouth. Plaque is a bacteria-filled substance that initiates gum disease and contributes to higher cavity rates.
On the other side of the coin, studies show that uncontrolled gum disease makes management and control of diabetes more difficult. It is indeed a most vicious cycle.
The Dangers of Undiagnosed Diabetes
According to the National Institute of Health, an estimated 9.4 percent of the population in the United States has diabetes, a figure that amounts to over 30 million people. However, only about 7.2 percent of the population (23.1 million people) has been diagnosed with diabetes. That means there are still millions of people out there who likely have diabetes but do not know about their condition.
Those figures are troubling because undiagnosed — and therefore unmanaged — diabetes is even more harmful than diabetes that is already being treated. In fact, one study found that undetected diabetes could double a person’s risk suffering from severe periodontitis.
Protect Your Oral and Overall Health
Here are a few keys to protecting yourself against diabetes and gum disease:
- Educate yourself about the risk factors and early symptoms of diabetes. If you believe you are at risk, work with your general physician can create a plan to help you manage your blood sugar levels. A healthy diet and adequate physical activity are both important.
- Keep an eye on your gums. Maintain your regular dental visits as your dentist prescribes. And at the first sign of unusual swelling, bleeding, or pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Mankato. Periodontal therapy, along with regular follow-up visits, can help you maintain healthy, disease-free gums.
- Let your dentist know if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. And be sure to bring your medication list with you. Your treatment recommendations will be tailored to ensure the maximum health for your mouth and your body.
Diabetes and gum disease often go hand in hand. By being proactive about your oral and overall health, you may be able to protect yourself from both conditions.
About the Author
Dr. James Kalina is an accomplished general dentist who helps his patients manage their oral health via insightful advice and skilled, conservative dental treatments. If you are fighting diabetes and/or gum disease, he would be happy to help you safeguard your smile. To schedule an appointment or to find out more about Dr. Kalina’s services, contact our office today at 507-625-2021.