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Gum Disease and Diabetes: A Scary Link

Did you know that February is Gum Disease Awareness Month? All of us at Denise DiBona, DDS in Red Bank want to bring some much-needed attention to gum disease – specifically how it and diabetes can team up to wreak havoc on your overall health. The gum disease and diabetes link can be harmful or even fatal, so here’s the information you need to protect your health. Call us at (732) 784-4145 to schedule a cleaning and exam.

Beware of Gum Disease

You could have early stages of gum disease and not even know it. That’s because gum disease can silently lurk in your mouth for a period of time without any obvious signs.

Simply put, gum disease is bacterial infection below the gumline. Our mouths have lots of bacteria in them that are normally removed by saliva and regular brushing and flossing.

If left alone, however, this bacteria forms clear, sticky gunk known as plaque. You’ve probably noticed it on your teeth if you’ve gone without brushing for a while. Plaque can eventually harden into tartar that can only be removed with a professional cleaning.

Over time, plaque and tartar buildup causes problems for your gums. The increasing numbers of bacteria can eventually lead to gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. At this stage, your gums may be red and swollen, and they may even bleed when brushing your teeth.

If gingivitis is not stopped, then periodontitis, or full-fledged gum disease, will develop in time. Pockets of bacteria will form under the gumline and your gums will start to pull away from your teeth roots.

Symptoms of gum disease at this stage may include:

  • Receding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth

Sounds nice, right?

Don’t Mess Around With Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease related to the body’s use of insulin to process sugar you eat. Diabetes can occur if the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or if your body is unable to use insulin properly.

Either way, the result is high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Left untreated, diabetes can cause further health problems such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage, and blindness.

Learn How the Dangerous Duo Work Together

If you have diabetes you should be especially careful about your oral hygiene habits. Research has shown that diabetics get gum disease more often and more severely, plus lose more teeth than people without diabetes.

Medical professionals believe there are at least two different ways that diabetes increases the risk of getting gum disease:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes can thicken the blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to the cells in your mouth (as well as to the rest of your body). These same blood vessels also remove waste from the cells. Thickened blood vessels slow the flow to and from your gums, which may allow bacteria to grow at a quicker pace.
  • Higher glucose levels in your bloodstream means more sugar in your saliva for bacteria to feed on. With an increased food supply, bacteria can begin to multiply, giving gum disease an easy platform to develop.

Once an individual with diabetes has developed gum disease, gum disease further hinders the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This in turn can worsen gum disease, creating a vicious cycle that causes a rapid deterioration in the body’s overall health.

Benefit From Our Experience Treating Gum Disease

We have good news for you, however! We can treat your gum disease in our Red Bank office. If your gums are red or swollen, or if you see signs of blood after brushing, give us a call and we’ll get you in to find out if these are early signs of gum disease.

Routine cleaning, which is part of our general dentistry services, will often restore your oral health if you’re in the early stages of gum disease. Our skilled dental hygienist will gently clean your teeth and eliminate bacteria that could cause you further problems.

More advanced gum disease may require deep cleaning. In this case, we’ll do scaling and root planing to clean below the gumline where you can’t reach with your toothbrush. This process will remove the bacteria buildup and smooth your teeth roots to help prevent regrowth of bacteria.

Deep cleaning is generally very comfortable for our patients, but we offer several amenities if you have any anxiety:

  • Movies glasses and headphones to help you forget everything.
  • Relaxing Shiatsu chair massagers.
  • Comfortable pillows and blankets to help you feel right at home.

Preventing Gum Disease

Good oral hygiene and checkups play a large role in keeping your gums healthy. Here are steps you can take to make sure gum disease doesn’t have a fighting chance in your mouth:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles between your teeth.
  • Avoid starchy, sugary foods that contribute to plaque buildup.
  • Schedule routine dental cleanings and exams at least every six months in our office.

We hope this information about the gum disease and diabetes link has been helpful to you. Call our friendly office at (732) 784-4145 if you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule your next appointment. You can also use our convenient online form.