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Diabetes and Gum Disease

Scott General Dentistry

If you or a loved one have diabetes, good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are an important part of managing the condition. Diabetes can set the stage for gum disease and gum disease can in turn exacerbate diabetes, creating a vicious circle when left unchecked. Here's how diabetes and gum disease are related and what you can do to manage both.

How Diabetes Increases Risk for Gum Disease

As those with diabetes already know, when there are high glucose levels in the blood, the body has a harder time fighting off infection. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is an inflammation of the gums that is caused by infection. Additionally, high glucose levels give bacteria the right conditions to flourish in the mouth. These conditions set the stage for early gum disease; without intervention, gum disease progresses.

How Gum Disease Impacts Diabetes

Once gum disease is present in the mouth, it can cause serious complications for diabetic patients. Gum disease is an infection; it is believed that when the body is trying to fight infection, blood sugar levels rise. Even in patients without diabetes, it is thought that gum disease and the increased blood sugar levels it causes may lead to type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes during pregnancy. 

When you have diabetes, controlling blood sugars can be difficult enough on its own. You don't need gum disease complicating things even further!

Breaking the Diabetes and Gum Disease Cycle

With diabetes exacerbating gum disease and gum disease exacerbating diabetes, it can seem like an impossible cycle to break--especially when you're already dealing with other health concerns. The American Dental Association recommends the following steps for patients with diabetes to keep their oral health in check:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes, using a soft-bristled brush and gentle movements.
  • Make flossing part of your twice-daily brushing routine.
  • Don't skip your dental exams and cleanings. You should schedule two a year, or more if recommended by your dentist.
  • Tell your dentist that you have diabetes and ask him or her to look for gum disease during your dental exams.

The good news is that when patients with diabetes visit the dentist to treat their gum disease, their blood glucose levels respond almost immediately.

What to Expect During Gum Disease Treatment

When a patient has periodontitis, treatment involves a process called scaling and root planing. The area of the mouth that we are working on will be numbed; scaling involves giving your teeth a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar, including the area just below the gum line. Root planing then smooths the roots of your teeth to help gums reattach. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, the entire process may take multiple visits.

Make Your Appointment Today

At Floss Family Dentistry, we offer scaling and root planing to treat gum disease and our regular dental exams and cleanings will help stop gum problems before they start. Contact us at 408-778-3135 to schedule an appointment.