Gum Disease and Diabetes

Diabetics check their blood glucose level with a glucometer.

Recent research links periodontal disease (gum disease) to a number of systemic health conditions, one of which is diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and San Diego area Periodontist, Dr. Kania wants you to understand how gum disease contributes to diabetes, and how diabetics are at higher risk for gum disease.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the body can’t produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. Insulin is required to break down sugar in the blood. Diabetics, therefore, have a high blood sugar level, and as a result, they experience a range of symptoms and side effects that can become life threatening. (For more information on diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Foundation website.)

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is infection of the gums caused by bacterial build up and an inappropriate immune response. Over time, gum disease can lead to oral health problems, like tooth looseness (mobility) and loss, gum recession, and jawbone deterioration. The disease has also been linked to systemic health problems ranging from diabetes complications, pregnancy complications, increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

How are gum disease and diabetes linked?

According to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), managing gum disease can reduce the risk for developing diabetes. All inflammatory diseases increase the blood glucose level, or the blood sugar level. For diabetics, the increase only exacerbates the problem of insufficient insulin. Good oral healthcare and healthy gum tissue reduces the risk for developing diabetes, as well as for diabetes complications.

If you’re a diabetic, tell your dentist and hygienist. If you love a diabetic, explain to him or her the importance of regular daily dental care at home, combined with professional dental care. Dr. Kania, a periodontist, has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of all phases of gum disease. If you need a periodontist or notice that your gums are red, swollen, or tender, call Dr. Kania in Encinitas, CA today at 760-642-0711 for an appointment. Dr. Kania offers minimally invasive laser periodontal treatment with Periolase, the no-cut, no-sew dental laser.