Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one of the leading causes of tooth loss among adults. Diabetics are more susceptible to the development of oral infections and periodontal disease than those who do not have diabetes. Oral infections tend to be more severe in diabetic patients than non-diabetic patients. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place and has also been linked to heart disease and strokes. 

Factors That Link Diabetes to Gum Disease

Studies show that people with insufficient blood sugar control seem to develop gum disease more frequently and more severely then people who have good management over their diabetes.
Diabetes slows circulation, which can also make the gum tissues more susceptible to infections.
Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which increases the probability of the gums becoming infected.
High glucose levels in saliva promote growth of bacteria that cause gum disease.
People with diabetes who smoke are far more likely to develop gum disease than people who smoke and do not have diabetes.
Poor oral hygiene is a major factor in gum disease for everyone, but it is even more so for a person with diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

Red and swollen gums
Gums that tend to bleed easily.
Gums recession.
Loose teeth.
Diminished salivary flow.
Xerostomia (dry mouth) causing increased incidence of decay.
Burning mouth or tongue.
Oral Candida infection in poorly controlled diabetics.
Frequent bad breath
Change in the way your teeth fit together.
Change in the way partials or dentures fit.

Prevention

Maintain good control over your blood sugar levels.
Diet and exercise may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve their quality of life and oral health.
Do not smoke.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental check ups are essential in preventing gum disease.
Eat a healthy and well balanced diet.
Be sure to tell your dentist and hygienist that you have diabetes so that he / she can detect any signs of early gum disease.
There are two major stages of periodontal disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Even though people with diabetes tend to develop gum disease more frequently than others, if diagnosed in the early stage (gingivitis), it can be treated and reversed. If treatment is not received, a more serious and advanced stage (periodontitis) may follow which includes bone loss and is not reversible.

What is the best time to receive dental care?

If your blood sugar is not under control, talk with both your dentist and physician about receiving elective dental care. Dental procedures should be as short and as stress free as possible. Also make morning appointments because blood glucose levels tend to be under better control at this time of day.

If you have a scheduled appointment, eat and take your medications as directed. See your dentist on a regular basis, keep him or her informed of your health status, and keep your mouth in good health.