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Diabetes Management and Gum Health: A Comprehensive Guide

According to the CDC, diabetes affects 38.4 million people in the U.S. or approximately 11.6 percent of the population. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you may know about common side effects like increased thirst, frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, and blurry vision. But did you also know that diabetes can impact oral health, particularly gum health?

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease. Let’s examine the connection between diabetes and gum health and how to best manage your oral health after a diabetes diagnosis.

A Brief Overview of Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that develops when blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, gets too high. Glucose is made naturally by the body and can also be obtained from the foods you eat. The hormone insulin is made by the pancreas and helps glucose get into the cells, where it can be used as an energy source. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, causing glucose to build up in the body.

The Diabetes and Gum Health Connection

Diabetes can cause blood vessels to thicken. Thickened blood vessels slow down the flow of nutrients and hinder waste removal from body tissues. The gums and underlying bone can weaken and become susceptible to infection.

If your diabetes isn’t controlled, glucose levels can build up in your oral fluids. This leads to bacterial growth, which can cause gum disease. In addition, if you have untreated gum disease, the infection can cause blood sugar levels to rise, making it harder to control your diabetes.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Gum Disease

Diabetes patients need to recognize the signs and symptoms of gum disease before the condition can advance. Healthy gums should feel firm and fit snugly around the teeth. Although the color of healthy gums can vary, most range from pale pink to dark pink to brown.

Common symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Bright red, dark purple, or dark red gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Painful chewing
  • Pus between the gums and teeth
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Change in your bite

Managing Diabetes and Gum Health

Partnering with your dentist in Vero Beach, FL, can help you manage your diabetes-related oral health issues better. If you already have gum disease, treatment may include plaque and tartar removal under the gums, a procedure known as deep cleaning or scaling and root planing.

Depending on the extent of the infection, your dentist may also place antibiotics in the periodontal pockets between the teeth and gums. Alternatively, antibiotics in pill form may be prescribed.

If the gum disease has advanced, surgery may be required to clean and reshape the infected tissues. These surgeries include periodontal regeneration, pocket reduction, crown lengthening, and soft tissue graft.

Diabetes patients should also take the necessary steps to prevent gum disease, such as:

  • It establishes a strict oral hygiene regimen involving twice-daily brushing, flossing, and fluoride toothpaste.
  • You are following your provider’s advice regarding diet and medications to control your blood glucose levels.
  • Avoiding dry mouth may include drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow.
  • You visit your dentist approximately every 6 to 12 months for a thorough exam and cleaning.
  • You are stopping bad oral health habits, such as smoking, the use of chewing tobacco or using your teeth as tools.
  • I am eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of physical exercise, and practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Call Our Periodontist in Vero Beach, FL

Diabetes is a common health condition that can be adequately managed with help from a trusted dental professional. At Vero Implants & Periodontics, we know the impact that diabetes can have on oral health. To help you manage your gum health and achieve a healthy smile, we offer treatment options to preserve your teeth and gums. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, contact our Vero Beach dental office at 772.569.9700.