Since November is National Diabetes Month, our dental team at K Street Dental & Orthodontic Group sheds light on the often-overlooked connection between diabetes and gum disease.
While these two health conditions might seem unrelated at first glance, there’s a significant and intricate relationship between them that can have a profound impact on your overall health.
The growing concern about the diabetes epidemic
Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. About 463 million adults had diabetes in 2019, and unfortunately, this number is expected to increase to 700 million by 2045.
This chronic metabolic disorder affects the way your body processes glucose (sugar), leading to elevated blood sugar levels.
The gum disease conundrum
On the other hand, gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that affects the tissues supporting your teeth. It typically starts as gingivitis, with symptoms of swollen and bleeding gums, and can progress to more severe forms if left untreated.
Common risk factors for gum disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking, genetics, and certain medical conditions.
The surprising connection
While it may not be immediately obvious, diabetes and gum disease are intertwined in a complex relationship. Here's how they affect each other:
Diabetes increases the risk of gum disease, and gum disease can make it harder to manage diabetes. High blood sugar levels in diabetes can weaken your immune system's ability to fight off infections, making your gums more susceptible to bacterial growth.
Conversely, gum disease can lead to increased blood sugar levels, making it challenging to control your glucose levels if you have diabetes.
Both diabetes and gum disease are characterized by chronic inflammation. The inflammation in one condition can exacerbate the other. Inflammation in your body can lead to insulin resistance, a hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, and worsen blood sugar control.
Shared risk factors
Diabetes and gum disease share several risk factors, including smoking, a poor diet, and obesity. These factors can amplify the negative impact of one condition on the other.
Oral health affects overall health
Your mouth can be a window to the health of your whole body. Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other systemic health issues, which can further complicate the management of diabetes.
Taking action for better health
Understanding the link between diabetes and gum disease is the first step toward better oral and overall health. Essential actions to consider include:
- Attending regular dental checkups
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Practicing good oral hygiene
- Participating in collaborative care
As we observe National Diabetes Month, we want you to understand that addressing the connection between diabetes and gum disease is vital for the well-being of anyone living with diabetes.
By taking steps to manage both conditions effectively, we can promote better health outcomes and improve your quality of life.
If you have questions or concerns about diabetes and gum disease, we’re here to help. Call our Washington, DC, office at 202-315-0856 today or send us a message at your convenience.