What is the Link Between Diabetes and Gum Disease?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2019
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As type 2 diabetics generally have high cholesterol, they are at a higher risk of contracting gum disease. This is more so for those whose diabetes is not under control. A secondary link between diabetes and gum disease is that once diabetics contract gum disease, it becomes much more difficult to control their blood glucose level. The key to curing gum disease for diabetics is to maintain a balanced blood glucose level. Not doing so can lead to a lifetime of oral health problems.

Though it has been known for some time that a link exists between diabetes and gum disease, recent research has shown how diabetes increases the risk for gum and other periodontal diseases. Though one might suspect otherwise, high blood sugar has little to do with gum disease. The link is made through the fact that most type 2 diabetics became that way through unhealthy eating that also raised their cholesterol. High cholesterol changes the way the body reacts to plaque in the mouth. The body becomes less able to fight infection and is more prone to gum disease.


Once a diabetic contracts gum disease, the condition makes it difficult to control his blood glucose level. In essence, eating healthily becomes harder when experiencing oral pain and swelling of the gums. Diabetes and gum disease can become a vicious circle, so diabetics should visit their dentist as soon as possible after symptoms of gum disease appear. Dentists are able to provide palliative measures until the effects from long-term treatment take effect.

The best long-term treatment for diabetes and gum disease is for diabetics to follow a dietary plan that lowers cholesterol and normalizes blood glucose level. If caught early enough, the gums will heal without significant side effects. Outside of normal gum health, this lifestyle prevents other degenerative symptoms of diabetes such as renal failure and heart disease.

If diabetics do not take corrective lifestyle measures, gum disease will develop into an advanced state, periodontitis. Periodontitis causes the bone supporting the teeth to degrade. Common symptoms are bleeding gums, loose teeth and bad breath. Repairing damage caused by periodontitis may involve multiple oral surgeries that require lifetime maintenance. Therefore, diabetics should not take lightly the connection between diabetes and gum disease.


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Post 3

Gum disease symptoms can be a sign of several health conditions that you would not think were related to oral health. Whether gum disease is the cause or just the warning signs of other diseases, it makes sense to keep a close watch on your oral health.

The expression "down in the mouth" stems from the belief that oral problems can be related to depression.

Post 2

@Feryll - Visiting the dentist every six months might be more often than you need, but not everyone is as good about their oral care as you are. I do well to floss once a day. I floss before I go to bed. I also have a sweet tooth, so I'm sure I should be more careful.

I have learned that I can help out my teeth by chewing sugarless gum after meals. And popping a piece a gum in my mouth is much easier than taking out the dental floss after each meal.

Also since tarter can build up quickly and make cleaning teeth more difficult, a good cleaning every six months can go a long way toward gum disease prevention.

Post 1

I go the dentist every six months and to be honest this seems like it is way too often to me. As a rule, I brush at least twice a day and I usually floss after every meal. This varies depending on where I am eating, how much time I have and whether I have any floss on me, but most of the time I floss.

I think once a year would be often enough to go to the dentist, but the accepted routine is every six months, so I go along even though I don't think gum disease prevention requires going to the dentist twice a year.

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