How Diabetes Affects Oral Health—It’s a Two-Way Street

The vicious (but beatable) cycle of gum disease and high-blood sugar

 

Did you know gum disease can make it more difficult for you to control your blood sugar? And the relationship goes both ways: People with poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to have gum disease.

Current research suggests that moderate to severe periodontal  (gum) disease may increase blood sugar, decrease the effects of insulin and increase the risk of diabetic complications.* In addition, a recent study from United Concordia shows that people with diabetes who receive and maintain treatment for gum disease can save more than $1,800 per year in medical costs.

 

Gum disease: The “6th complication” of diabetes

People with diabetes have impaired white blood cells, and are prone to bacterial infections in the mouth. Experts believe diabetes reduces saliva production, interferes with the body’s ability to repair itself and leaves the body vulnerable to infections like gum disease. 

 

How you can fight gum disease

If you have diabetes and want to avoid gum disease, or just want to maintain good oral health, stick to this simple oral health regimen:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day (after meals), limit snacking, drink water throughout the day and use a soft-bristled brush.
  • Floss to remove plaque from places that your toothbrush can’t reach. Food debris left between your teeth can cause bad breath and lead to gum disease.
  • Avoid sweets and other empty-calorie snacks that cause tooth decay. Bacteria and sugar produce acids that attack the teeth.

 

WATCH: Learn more about the link between diabetes and your oral health

 

Want to learn more about taking care of your mouth?

Understanding gum disease: What is it?

Learn about the link between mouth bacteria and heart disease

See how regular dental checkups can lower your health care costs