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Do Gum Disease, Diabetes Affect One Another?

Posted on January 17th, 2016

If you have diabetes, then you should be concerned about gum disease, too.

Why? Because one makes the other harder to control.

At our dentist office in Marietta, GA, we have the knowledge and training to recognize the signs of gum disease. We have the tools and the technology to treat your gum disease, too.

More importantly, we would prefer that you take steps to prevent it from taking hold inside your mouth.

In today’s post, Atlanta West Dentistry will take some time to discuss the relationship between diabetes and gum disease, the symptoms of gum disease, and how we can help treat your gum disease if you do have it.

Connecting Two Diseases

Researchers are still trying to learn the reason people with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, but they have a few hypotheses that they are testing.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, people with diabetes are more likely to have mouth infections in general.

Dry mouth is one of the symptoms of diabetes. Saliva plays a role in removing bacteria, which causes gum disease and tooth decay, from your mouth.

If you have diabetes, then you already know that it affects your blood sugar levels. Well, gum disease (also called periodontal disease) can make it more difficult to control your those sugar levels.

Again, we want to be clear, researchers have not determined if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between diabetes and gum disease. What is clear is that diabetes can made gum disease more likely, and gum disease has symptoms can make your diabetes more difficult to control.

Diseases On The Rise?

Another thing we know is that diabetes is becoming more and more common, especially here in Georgia. According to America’s Health Rankings, diabetes rates have more than tripled in Georgia in the last 20 years.

In 1996, 3.7 percent of Georgia residents had been diagnosed with diabetes. In 2015, that figure rose to 11.6 percent of Georgians.

That’s quite an increase in two decades.

That’s also makes another statistic a little bit concerning to our dentists.

The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that 47.2 percent of Americans 30 and older have periodontitis, which is a more advanced form of gum disease. To put that in perspective, that’s 64.7 million people in the United States.

The rise in diabetes in our state, and the widespread existence of gum disease in our country are both reasons for us to pay particular attention to gum disease in our patients.

It’s why we want you to pay attention for gum disease, too.

Know The Signs

Whether you have diabetes or not, it’s important to know the symptoms of gum disease.

Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease. It’s symptoms include red, swollen gums and gums that bleed easily (such as when you are brushing and flossing).

At this stage, you can reserve the disease with improved oral hygiene. This means brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing every day.

It also means coming to Atlanta West Dentistry for regular cleanings and examinations. Our dentists and hygienists are likely to see the signs of gingivitis — even if you haven’t — so you can treat your condition.

Periodontitis is a more severe condition, and so are its symptoms, such as:

◼︎ Gum recession (when gums pull away from your teeth)

◼︎ Pus coming out of your gums

◼︎ Loose teeth

◼︎ Pain while chewing

If left untreated, periodontitis will damage the bone that holds your teeth in place, which is why your teeth can feel loose and even fall out.

If you have periodontitis, you’ll need more than a cleaning to treat it.

The first step is known as scaling and root planing. In this procedure, we get below the gumline to remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar that has built up around the roots of your teeth. We may recommend an antibiotic gel to prevent the infection from returning as well.

If that isn’t enough, we can perform perio laser therapy. We use a carbon dioxide laser to remove infected gum tissue and to eliminate “pockets” that may have formed as a result of your gum recession.

Laser therapy is less invasive than surgery, and it allows you to heal faster after your procedure.

Take It Seriously

Everyone should know that gum disease can be a big threat to your oral health, and anyone with diabetes should pay particular attention to their gums.

If you have questions or concerns about your gum health, now is the time to plan a visit to Atlanta West Dentistry. Call us (770) 941-6979 or use our online form to schedule your appointment.