This is Kim, a seemingly healthy 53-year-old female. At Kim’s last dental appointment her dental hygienist noticed more inflammation and bleeding in her gums. Nothing had changed with Kim’s brushing and flossing habits, she was confused why her gums weren’t as healthy as usual. Kim had also been noticing her mouth was very dry, she was constantly thirsty and was frequently needing to run to the washroom. Kim was due for a physical, so her dental hygienist recommended she bring up the possibility of diabetes to her doctor. To Kim’s surprise she was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
What do bleeding and inflamed gums have to do with diabetes? Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is actually a common complication of diabetes, along with dry mouth (which can lead to more cavities), heart attack, slowed wound healing, increased susceptibility to infection and more. Diabetics (Type 1 and 2) have a higher risk of developing gum disease than people with healthy blood sugar levels. As previously mentioned, diabetics with high blood glucose levels are more prone to bacterial infections and gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums. High glucose levels act as a food source for these infection causing bacteria allowing them to flourish in the mouth.
If left untreated gingivitis (the first stage of gum disease) can advance quickly to the more severe periodontitis, especially in diabetics. Periodontitis damages the gums and bones surrounding your teeth and can eventually lead to tooth loss. Coupled with slow wound healing gum infections can lead to serious, long term issues for diabetics. In order to control and stop gum disease from advancing quickly The Canadian Academy of Periodontology and Diabetes Canada both recommend diabetics wait no longer than 90 days between professional teeth cleanings to remove infection causing bacteria
Recent research shows the relationship between gum disease and diabetes is a two-way street, gums infections may lead to higher blood glucose levels making diabetes harder to control. Higher blood glucose levels also put people with diabetes at an increased risk for diabetic complications, severely affecting a person’s overall health. If you do have diabetes, it’s important to work to keep your blood glucose levels under control. Keeping your mouth healthy with twice daily brushing, daily flossing and regular 3-month dental cleanings will help you to control your diabetes and achieve your optimal overall health! If you have any questions the dental professionals here at Brentwood Dental Centre would be more than happy to discuss your unique health and dental needs.