The Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease

Older woman in an off-white sweater pricks her finger with a blood sugar monitor.

Diabetics already have a lot to keep track of: blood sugar levels, nutrition, eyesight and weight loss or gain, just for starters.

Unfortunately, people suffering from diabetes are also at higher risk for gum disease and are more likely to require gum disease treatment to combat it. Whether they’re type 1 or type 2, diabetics tend to get periodontal disease more easily and develop it earlier in life than their non-diabetic counterparts. Diabetics who smoke are at even higher risk. Controlling blood sugar level is critical for people with diabetes, and having severe periodontal disease can make it harder to maintain that control.

It’s not all bad news though – people who control their diabetic condition through diet, exercise and medicine are less at risk for gum disease. Being diligent about dental appointments can also give diabetics less to worry about since gum disease is much easier to treat when it’s detected early. If you’re worried you have gum disease, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss treatment as soon as possible.

Diabetes or not, everyone should watch their gums for signs of gum disease. It’s especially important to be aware of these symptoms: receding gums, loose or separating teeth, sensitive teeth, persistent bad breath, a change in the way teeth fit together when biting and gums that bleed easily or are red, swollen and tender.

To help prevent periodontal disease, pay extra attention to your oral health. Brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, giving your gum line some additional TLC. Floss at least once a day and try to eat a well-balanced diet. Visit your dentist regularly – it’s advised to go at least twice a year. If you don’t currently have a dentist you can use our provider search tool to find a dentist near you. Wherever you go and whoever you see, be sure to make them aware of your diabetes or any other medical condition so he or she can be on the lookout for any warning signs or abnormalities as well.

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