Why Your Dentist Cares About Your Diabetes

  • February 3, 2016

People with diabetes are more likely to have a lot of other health problems, too. Some of those problems include heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes.

This is a concern for anyone, but a particular concern for your dentist is your increased risk for gum disease.

Researchers are still studying the relationship between these two diseases, but know that the team at Beaumont Family Dentistry wants to help you keep your mouth healthy. 

Below, we will discuss the signs of gum disease and treatment options for patients who visit our three dentist offices around Lexington. If you live anywhere in Central Kentucky, treatment for your gum disease is only a short drive away.

Diabetes Is On The Rise

Nationally, diabetes rates have more than doubled in the past 11 years. In 2006, 4.4 percent of Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes. As of 2015, that number has risen to 10 percent of the population, according to data from America’s Health Rankings.

In Kentucky, the numbers look even worse.

In 1996, only 3.5 percent of Kentuckians had been diagnosed with diabetes. As of last year, 12.5 percent of Bluegrass State residents have been told that they have diabetes. That’s 1 in every 8 people.

That concerns us, and it should be a concern for anyone who has diabetes or who has a family history of the disease.

Gum Disease: What To Watch For

Knowing that there is a link between diabetes and gum disease, the American Diabetes Association encourages people to be aware of the symptoms of gum disease.

In general, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) starts with milder symptoms:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tender gums
  • Gums that bleed when you floss or brush your teeth

These are signs that you likely have gingivitis. This occurs when bacteria grows and causes your gums to become inflamed. This can be treated and reversed with basic oral hygiene practices.

If left untreated, your gum disease could turn into periodontitis. This is a more advanced form of the gum disease.

At this stage you may see new symptoms, such as:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Gums that are separating from your teeth
  • Teeth that feel more sensitive
  • Teeth that feel loose
  • Constant bad breath

When you have periodontitis, your body’s response can cause your gum tissue to break down. This also can affect your jawbone, which is why your teeth can feel loose or even fall out.

The Diabetes Connection

We want to be clear that researchers are still studying how diabetes and gum disease affect one another.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that people with diabetes are more likely to have mouth infections.

One possible reason for this is that diabetics often have dry mouth. This is important because saliva helps to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease from your mouth.

This is one way that diabetes can increase your risk of gum disease. At the same time, your gum disease can complicate your diabetes.

You already know that diabetes affects your blood sugar. Some research suggests that gum disease can make it more difficult to control your blood sugar levels.

We want to reiterate that the links between diabetes and gum disease are still being studied. Even so, it is clear that there is a connection — a bad one — between the two diseases.

Treating And Preventing Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is the best way to help keep your mouth healthy.

This starts with basic oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice every day. Brush for two minutes at a time with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. By sure to scrub your teeth on all sides.

Floss every single day. This is necessary to remove bacteria from between your teeth and gums (in other words, from places you can’t reach with your toothbrush).

If you have signs of gum disease, please plan to visit one of the Beaumont Family Dentistry offices in Lexington as soon as possible. The earlier we treat you, the better you and your gums will be.

In addition to routine cleanings and examinations, we can perform a procedure called scaling and root planing. During this treatment, we get underneath the gumline to remove any bacteria, plaque, and tartar around the roots of your teeth.

We may use an antibiotic gel to prevent the infection from returning.

In more serious cases, we can use a dental laser to remove infected gum tissue. This is less invasive than surgery, and it helps us remove pockets in your gums where bacteria can remain hidden.

Get Treatment Today

If you or someone your love is showing signs of gum disease, it’s better to treat it now rather that waiting for bigger problems to develop. If you live in Richmond, Georgetown, or anywhere else in Central Kentucky, then you are within driving distance of one or our three dentist offices in Lexington.

To make an appointment, call the Beaumont Family Dentistry office closest to you in Beaumont Centre Circle, Leestown, or Hamburg, or click on the location to make an appointment online.

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