Is There a Link Between Gum Disease and Diabetes?

All parts of the body are interconnected and when one part is in trouble, the rest of the body is affected. You might already be aware of how diabetes affects dental health, but you might find yourself wondering if there is a link between gum disease and diabetes. Read on to learn more.

Understanding gum disease and diabetes

1. Gum disease and diabetes are caused by the same things

A high-carb, high-sugar diet, excessive drinking, smoking and poor overall health. These are the things that eventually lead to both gum disease and diabetes. Consuming too much sugar and too many carbohydrates feeds plaque-causing bacteria in the mouth. When plaque is left to accumulate in the mouth, it infects the gums, setting off gum disease.

Type 2 diabetes is likewise triggered by unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor diet and lack of exercise. Over time, a sugar-rich diet leads to weight gain and permanently high blood sugar that can no longer be regulated by the body (also known as diabetes).

Now, could a person get both diseases at the same time? Or, if a person becomes a diabetic, will gum disease be triggered as well? What if gum disease strikes first? Could gum disease cause a person to become diabetic?

2. Diabetes can lead to gum disease

Diabetes causes high blood sugar and lowered immunity. Also, diabetics take longer to heal.

High blood sugar results in high glucose levels in saliva. A person who has low immunity may have persistent bacteria in the mouth. The glucose and bacteria come together to form the plaque that sets off gum disease. This causes the gum to become tender and weakened, which leads to the skin on the gum breaking more easily. Broken skin heals slowly in diabetics, and this could make the gum disease worse.

The good news is that if caught early, gum disease is easily managed in diabetics. It only takes a little dental work and good oral care.

3. Gum disease has been linked to diabetes

The Department of Periodontology at the University of Copenhagen did a study to assess if periodontal disease led to pre-diabetes in non-diabetic patients. The study was published in the Journal of Periodontology in March 2007.

The study found that advanced gum disease can cause the fasting blood sugar level of a non-diabetic to rise. Once the blood sugar level exceeds 5.6 millimoles per liter, the person becomes pre-diabetic. The study showed that advanced gum disease affects the regulation of glucose in the body. When the body fails to regulate sugar, a pre-diabetic may become fully diabetic.

Severe gum disease can also raise the blood sugar of a diabetic, overriding any medication taken to regulate glucose levels. In such a scenario, the risk of diabetic complications increases.

Killing two birds with one stone

Gum disease can trigger type 2 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can lead to gum disease. This means taking care of our teeth through diet and oral hygiene helps to keep our blood sugar low. Conversely, keeping our bodies healthy by eating right and exercising is good for our oral health.

Contact one of our dentists if you need gum disease treatments.

Let’s get started…

For more information or to schedule an appointment with McCarthy Dentistry, request an appointment in our Marietta dental office here: Or call us at (740) 546-5178.

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