You may already know that diabetes puts you at risk for certain medical conditions, including problems with your eyes, feet, kidneys, and heart. But having diabetes can also affect your teeth and gums. It can put you at higher risk for gum disease, tooth decay, dry mouth, and fungal infections of the mouth. That's why it's especially important to take good care of your teeth and gums.
Diabetes and Gum Disease: A Two-Way Street
When you have high blood sugar from diabetes, your saliva and the fluid around your teeth and under the gums contains more sugars. Poorly controlled blood sugars can cause gum disease or periodontal disease by contributing to a buildup of plaque around your gums.
Plaque causes irritation and infection around the gums that can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and eventually tooth loss. Gum disease causes the gums to bleed, look red, and be swollen.
As gum disease gets worse, the gums pull away from the teeth and pockets of pus may form between the teeth and gums. In severe cases, there can be tooth loss.
Studies show that people who have poor control of their diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than those who have diabetes that is well controlled. They also tend to lose more teeth from gum disease.
What’s more, recent research shows that having gum disease may make your blood sugars and diabetes worse. Some researchers think this may be because gum disease increases inflammation in the body. This inflammation makes it harder to control blood sugar. People with diabetes also have a decreased ability to fight infections. But prompt treatment of gum disease can help reduce the effect it has on blood sugar levels.
See your dentist right away if you have any of these signs of gum disease:
- Gums that are red, swollen, sore, or bleed easily
- Gums that pull away from your teeth
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- Changes in the way your bite feels
- Dentures that don’t fit correctly
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth