Diabetes and Gum Disease

A picture of a spoon and sugar. We are stressing the link between gum disease and diabetes - myriam zilles

Gum disease: did you know that there is estimated to be over 4 million people living with diabetes in the UK at present. This represents 6% of the UK population or 1 in every 16 people having diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed).

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. All food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In Type I diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy.

In Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.

Having diabetes means you’re more at risk of dental problems like gum disease, also called periodontal disease which means gum disease and infection can in turn increase your blood sugar levels, which can further problems to your health.

Signs of gum disease in diabetics

Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed.  So what are the first signs?

  • red, swollen, and bleeding gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  •  long-lasting infection between the teeth and gums
  • bad breath that won’t go away
  • permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from one another
  • changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • sometimes pus between the teeth and gums
  • changes in the fit of dentures, which are teeth you can remove

Preventive Measures

You can help prevent gum disease with diabetes by avoiding acidic drinks, like energy drinks and water with lemon, these can erode the enamel of your teeth which can lead to decay.  Flossing daily between each tooth can also help, as can brushing your teeth and gum line for a full 2 minutes, twice a day. Use a soft bristle brush, using gentle strokes. Brushing your tongue for a few seconds, can also aid in the removal of bacteria.

Treatment of gum disease

Periodontal disease can be treated successfully, especially if caught early. Treatment involves improving daily plaque removal techniques and undergoing a thorough cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. It’s important to remember that treating periodontal disease requires a partnership between the patient and the clinicians. This includes maintaining good plaque removal and attending regular dental appointments throughout life.

In addition, quitting smoking and adopting a healthy lifestyle are crucial for effective treatment. Smokers may have a less favourable response to treatment compared to non-smokers. Choosing the right food and drink is also essential for prevention and treatment. Following a healthy, balanced diet low in sugar is not only beneficial for your teeth but also for your overall health.

If you are worried about Diabetes and Gum Disease please contact us here.