Bruce A. Spigner, DDS, is a general dentist specializing in restorative and hospital dentistry. He is on staff at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and can be reached at (602) 253-0994.
Question: I have diabetes and have heard that my blood sugar can be affected by the health of my mouth. Is that true?
Answer: Yes, it is true that your oral health can impact your blood sugar levels. Ten years of research have confirmed that individuals with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease.
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, ligaments and bone that support your teeth and hold them in the jaw. It is generally a painless condition; therefore, most individuals do not know they have gum disease until it’s too late. While not always present in the early stages, common signs include:
As the body works around the clock to fight the infection, blood sugar levels can rise, ultimately affecting other organs in the body. In addition, elevated or poorly controlled blood sugar levels can affect the severity of gum disease, making routine dental care increasingly important for those with diabetes.
Treating periodontal disease typically includes:
Following these simple steps can help you achieve optimal oral health and assist in maintaining stable healthy blood sugar levels. Even if you aren’t experiencing any of the described symptoms, periodontal disease may still be present and active. Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes are encouraged to undergo a complete dental checkup as soon as possible.