Diabetes and Gum Disease

In addition to this month bringing Thanksgiving next week—and we do THANK YOU for choosing us!—November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Individuals with diabetes are at a greater risk for gum disease. In fact, having gum disease may make your diabetes more difficult to control. It’s a viscous circle.

Diabetes is a disorder that occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high. Sometimes the body doesn’t make enough insulin, the hormone that helps the glucose absorbed from the food we eat turn to energy. When this happens, the glucose stays in your blood, causing health problems.

Risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • History of high blood pressure or high HDL cholesterol
  • Age 45+
  • Sedentary lifestyle

If your diabetes is not controlled, your gum disease may also be more difficult to control. Deep cleaning, oral surgery and antibiotics may be required. Individuals with diabetes may experience dry mouth because of their elevated blood glucose. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy can stimulate saliva production.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes can often make lifestyle changes to positively impact their overall health and help manage the condition without medication. These steps include:

  • Diet improvement (more nutritious foods)
  • Avoiding excess alcohol
  • Avoiding “empty” calories like high-sugar desserts, soft drinks and energy drinks
  • Increased exercise at least 5 days a week