Diabetes and Periodontal Gum Disease

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Filed Under: Diabetes Complications, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 03/07/2014

Diabetes and Periodontal Gum Disease

People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing periodontal gum disease, or gum disease, than people without blood sugar problems. Periodontal gum disease occurs when the gums become infected and inflamed.

Signs of Periodontal Gum Disease

  • Red, sore, swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Trouble chewing

If you have diabetes, your risk of periodontal gum disease is about twice that of people without diabetes. And if your glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are nearly three times more likely to have severe forms of gum disease, and to lose more teeth than people without diabetes.

Glucose and Damage to Blood Vessels

As with most diabetes complications, the main culprit behind the increased risk is damage to blood vessels due to elevated glucose levels. Without nourishment and removal of waste from their tissues, the gums become less resistant to infection, setting the stage for periodontal gum disease.

Another reason people with diabetes are much more prone to periodontal gum disease is because glucose is a favorite food of bacteria in the mouth called Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria metabolize sugar in a fermentation process, producing acids that eat through the enamel of teeth and cause decay.

For these reasons, you must be extra vigilant in your efforts to prevent periodontal gum disease.

More Dr. Whitaker Advice on Diabetes Complications

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