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November is National Diabetes Month

November is upon us, a time of the year when we focus all our attention on diabetes and the many millions of people affected by it. With over 26 million people having diabetes in America, the National Diabetes Month is a time to create awareness about diabetes risk factors and encourage patients to manage diabetes to prevent diabetes-related health problems like kidney disease, nerve damage, blindness as well as gum disease.


Link between Diabetes and Gum Disease

Research shows that there is a link between diabetes control and gum disease and it goes both ways. Not only do people with diabetes have an increased chance of having gum disease, but gum disease may make it difficult to control the blood glucose levels contributing to the progression of diabetes. In fact, according to experts, if you have diabetes, you are twice at risk of getting periodontal gum disease as compared to people without diabetes. People with diabetes tend to have higher levels of sugar in their mouths providing a source for mouth bacteria that forms a sticky plaque biofilm around the teeth or gum line. Failure to remove the plaque regularly and thoroughly creates a bacterial infection that causes the inflammation of the gums, setting the stage for gum disease. If left untreated, the condition may lead to tissue damage and tooth loss.


Diabetes leads to reduced resistance to infections increasing one’s susceptibility to developing gum disease or eventual periodontal disease. The condition causes blood vessels to thicken, slowing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues including the mouth, and the removal of harmful waste products. This in effect weakens the ability of gum tissue to fight bacteria leading to inflammation of the gum and bone tissue causing gingivitis or periodontitis. Further, people with poor blood glucose control are at a higher risk of getting gum disease more severely than people whose diabetes is under control. This is because there is reduced resistance to infections as well as impaired healing in such people, allowing the gum disease to cause far more destruction at a faster rate.


On the other hand, continuous infections in the mouth lead to higher insulin resistance increasing the periods of time the body functions with high blood sugar. Bacterial infections can also affect a diabetic’s metabolism rate making it harder to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This explains the reason why gum disease can worsen the severity of one’s diabetic condition. Managing the gum disease can, therefore, help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels, decreasing the progression of the disease.


Preventing Gum Problems

If you have diabetes, taking early steps to keep your teeth and gums healthy should be your top priority. Follow a daily routine of brushing and flossing along with dental check-ups and professional cleanings at least twice yearly. Remember to update your dentist on your diabetic status and any new medication you may be taking. More importantly, ensure your blood glucose levels are under control by using your diabetes-related medications as required and by maintaining healthy lifestyle habits like healthy eating, regular exercise and healthy lifestyle habits. With good blood sugar control, your body is in a better position to fight any bacterial or fungal infection in the mouth. Whether you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, having healthy gums is important in making it easier for you to control your blood sugar levels

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