Gum Disease and Diabetes

 Gum Disease and Diabetes

Good oral hygiene should be high on everyone’s priority list. However, if you have diabetes, you should be especially vigilant in taking care of your oral health. This is because your chance of developing oral health problems, such as gum disease, increases if you have diabetes.

At Loudoun Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Leesburg, Virginia, our providers have years of experience providing quality dental care, including helping patients who have diabetes.

In this blog, we explain what gum disease is, how diabetes can contribute to its development, and how you can keep your mouth healthy.

Understanding gum disease

Nearly 50% of adults aged 30 and older have gum disease, and these numbers skyrocket to about 70% in people aged 65 and older. 

Gum disease develops when plaque builds up on the teeth and under the gums. When ignored, the plaque hardens into tartar, making it even harder to remove. As plaque and tartar build-up, they can trigger infection and inflammation in the mouth, which can cause telltale symptoms, such as:

Gum disease also increases your chances of developing other health complications, such as coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, and problems controlling blood sugar.

Gum disease and diabetes

When you have diabetes, your blood sugar runs higher than normal. Unfortunately, that works against you in several ways, especially when it comes to your oral health. 

First of all, the bacteria that form plaque in your mouth thrive on sugar. But it doesn’t stop there. Diabetes also impacts your blood vessels, white blood cells, and saliva production, each of which contributes to your oral health.

Blood vessels

Blood vessels carry essential nutrients throughout your body. Unfortunately, high blood sugar levels can cause these delicate vessels to thicken, which can make it more difficult for nutrients to reach oral tissues to maintain optimal health.

White blood cells

When you have an infection in the body, white blood cells offer your best defense, even if it’s in your mouth. Unfortunately, diabetes can weaken these vital cells, which can leave you more vulnerable to infections, such as gum disease. It can also make it harder to treat infections once they set in.

Saliva production

Saliva helps neutralize acids and tooth decay, and it also flushes bacteria and food particles from your mouth. However, diabetes often causes dry mouth, which can leave you with less saliva to do these critical jobs.

Maintaining optimal oral and physical health with diabetes

This information may seem bleak, but you can take steps to protect every aspect of your health, from your mouth to your whole body.

First, studies show that approximately 34.2 million Americans have diabetes, or 10.5% of the population. However, more than 1 in 5 don’t know it. But, whether you know you have diabetes or not, you can help keep your oral health in good shape by having a good oral hygiene routine and getting regular teeth cleanings.

By making sure to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day, you can keep bacteria and plaque to a minimum. And, by going to regular cleanings, we can remove any plaque and bacteria that you miss from brushing and flossing. On top of that, our team can detect signs of a problem and outline treatment strategies to address it before it becomes serious.

To learn more about taking care of your oral health if you have diabetes, call 703-952-7332 or book an appointment online with Loudoun Family and Cosmetic Dentistry today. Our experienced team offers flexible hours to accommodate busy schedules, and we can address all of your oral health concerns.

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