Diabetes and gum disease

What is diabetes?

In order to function the body requires glucose, and this glucose needs to be inside the cells of your body to be useful. When you eat and drink the glucose levels in your blood rises.

Normally the pancreas produces insulin, which carries glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. In diabetes the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin does not work properly (insulin resistance).


Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease

Type 1 diabetes typically starts in childhood, but can occur up to the age of 40. In Type 1 diabetes the pancreas does not produce any insulin, so has to be replaced by injections or other methods.
Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas can still make some insulin, but not enough. Or the insulin produced does not work properly. This form of diabetes used to be called late onset diabetes as it typically occurs in those over the age of 40. However, recent trends suggest that the risk of getting Type 2 at younger ages is increasing.

Because diabetes causes abnormalities in blood vessels, and high levels of specific inflammatory chemicals such as interleukins, the risk of periodontal disease is significantly higher in those affected


Diabetes and gum disease

We produce a fluid in our gums called gingival crevicular fluid. If blood-sugar levels are higher than is ideal, some of this sugar will be released with the gingival crevicular fluid ‘feeding’ the bacteria that causes gum disease.
If your diabetes is under control, it should have little effect on your oral health.
However, if your diabetes is not under control, the oral effects can be dramatic.

People with diabetes can suffer from:

  • Periodontal (gum) disease that gets worse rapidly
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Poor healing in the mouth
  • Oral candidiasis (thrush)
  • Burning mouth and/or tongue

Uncontrolled diabetes impacts your body’s ability to fight infection. Gum (periodontal) disease is a bacterial infection, so people with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to have it. Their gum disease is also likely to be more severe.


Periodontal treatment can also help improve diabetic control

Any type of infection may cause blood sugar levels to rise. This includes periodontal disease. If the infection is treated successfully, your blood sugar may go down as a result, and you may need less medicine to control your diabetes.

The most important part of controlling periodontal disease is your follow-up home care. If you don’t brush twice a day and floss daily, your disease will not improve and will most likely get worse. This will make controlling your diabetes more difficult.

To find out more about periodontal treatment please call us on 020 7247 7400 to speak with our friendly team or fill out our contact form.