Glucose and Your Gums: A Diabetic’s Guide to Periodontal Disease

Gum disease and diabetesIt’s common knowledge that diabetes is linked to such medical complications as renal failure, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Less common is an understanding of the oral health implications of diabetes, specifically, the increased risk for gum disease. Dr. Thanasi Loukas discusses symptoms and consequences of bleeding gums in Park Ridge, IL and what it means for diabetics.

Why Are Diabetics Susceptible to Gum Disease?

Patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes are less resistant to infection and experience a slower healing process. Without treatment, diabetes interferes with white blood cells, crippling your body’s strongest defense against illness and infection. Symptoms of diabetes, such as dry mouth, compound the problem by making your mouth more hospitable to the bacteria that cause tooth decay and periodontal disease. The disease also increases glucose levels in your saliva, increasing your risk of oral fungal infections.

How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?

Bleeding gums are the most common symptom of gingivitis and gum disease. Gums usually only bleed when they brush or floss, and only slightly. Your toothbrush may appear tinged with orange or pink. Unlike healthy gum tissue, which looks pink, infected tissue appears red, puffy, and shiny. The disease is rarely painful in its earliest stages, which explains why so few patients seek treatment at this point. Other symptoms include:

  • Unpleasant breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Teeth that have shifted or loosened
  • Receding gums, causing the teeth to appear longer
  • In denture wearers, changes in the fit of the prosthetic

What Can I Do to Protect My Teeth and Gums?

Fortunately, you can easily mitigate the oral health risks posed by diabetes. Above all, carefully monitor and manage your blood sugars according to your general physician or endocrinologist’s directions. Diligence in following your oral hygiene regimen is critical; the American Dental Association advises that you should brush your teeth twice daily for a minimum of two minutes per session, and that you should floss daily. Your dentist may also recommend a prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinse for added protection. Twice-yearly professional teeth cleaning is standard, although some patients benefit from more frequent appointments. Finally, avoid using tobacco products. Compared to a non-smoker, a diabetic who smokes is as much as 20 times more likely to develop gum disease. Dr. Maria Loukas adds that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among American men and women.

Has a medical condition affected your oral health? To learn more about oral-systemic health, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, contact our Park Ridge, IL dentist office at847.696.1919. Drs. Maria and Thanasi Loukas provide cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dental care to patients living in and around Chicago, Park Ridge, and the 60068 zip code.

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