Diabetes and Gum Disease

Diabetes and Oral Health Problems

  • 1Is There an Association Between Gum Disease and Diabetes? For the nearly 29 million Americans who have diabetes, many may be surprised to learn about an unexpected complication associated with this condition. Research shows that there is an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes, adding serious gum disease to the list of other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

  • 2DOES GUM DISEASE IMPACT DIABETES AND VICE VERSA? Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control.

    Research suggests that people with diabetes are at higher risk for gum disease, ranging from gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) to periodontitis (serious gum disease). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people living with diabetes are two times as likely to develop gum disease 1. That’s because people with diabetes are generally more susceptible to infections and less able to fight germs that invade the gums.

    The Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health states that good oral health is integral to general health for all Americans. So be sure to brush and floss properly and see your dentist for regular checkups.

  • 3IF I HAVE DIABETES, AM I AT RISK FOR DENTAL PROBLEMS? If your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood glucose to rise and may make diabetes harder to control.

    Other oral problems that can be associated with diabetes include thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth, which can lead to soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities.

  • 4HOW CAN I HELP PREVENT DENTAL PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH DIABETES? It is critical to control your blood glucose level and take good care of your teeth and gums, along with regular checkups every six months. To control thrush, a fungal infection, maintain good diabetic control, avoid smoking and, if you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily. Good blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.

  • 5What Can I Expect at My Checkup? Should I Tell My Dental Professional About My Diabetes? People with diabetes have special needs and your dentist and hygienist are equipped to meet those needs — with your help. Keep your dentist and hygienist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood glucose is not in good control.

1 CDC, National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf