November is Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Associates, nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have this disease. You may be aware of the fact that diabetes sufferers struggle to maintain a normal blood sugar or insulin level; but what you may not know is diabetics are at huge risk for oral health problems. Research shows that there is a direct correlation between gum disease and diabetes. Furthermore, their relationship may even be a two-street. This means that not only are diabetics more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may also affect blood glucose control and trigger the progression of diabetes.
Why Are Diabetics At Risk for Gum Disease?
Diabetes can put people at risk for both early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) and serious gum disease (periodontitis). It is important to note that the risks are much greater for diabetics who have poorly controlled blood glucose. The reason gum disease is a risk factor is because diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
Remember that leaving gum disease untreated can eventually lead to tooth loss. At its most advanced stage, gum disease starts to cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. The gaps or pockets between your gums and teeth tend to fill with germs and pus. The infection can progress to destroy the bone around your teeth.
What Can You Do?
Controlling your diabetes is perhaps the most important and first step you should take to fight gum disease. Brushing and flossing diligently, twice a day for two minutes each time, is critical. Diabetics should always inform their dentist of their condition, as you may require additional check-ups or cleanings. Group Health Dental is dedicated to helping patients fight all of the unwanted oral problems of diabetes, including gum disease, thrush, dry mouth, ulcers and cavities. A clean and healthy mouth will often mean a healthy body!