People with diabetes are more likely than others to develop gum disease, also called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum and bone that hold teeth in place.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, or severe gum disease. While diabetes raises the risk of both, there are ways to keep your mouth healthy.
The better diabetes is managed, the less likely you are to get gum disease. Good oral hygiene can also limit the risk of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know about gum disease when you have diabetes.
How Can Diabetes Lead to Gum Disease?
Diabetes causes blood vessel changes. This can make it harder for nutrients to get to the body’s tissues. It can also cause waste to build up. These changes can weaken the gums and bone. That puts them at risk for infection.
Higher blood sugar levels in saliva can cause bacteria to grow in the mouth. This can also lead to gum disease.
What’s more, gum disease and diabetes can be a vicious cycle. Infections from gum disease can cause blood sugar to rise. That can make it harder to manage diabetes, which puts you at greater risk for gum disease.
People with diabetes who smoke are at an even higher risk of gum disease and other oral health problems.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
These are the most common signs of gum disease:
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gumline
- Loose or separating teeth
- Bad breath
- Dentures no longer fit
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- A change in bite and jaw alignment
Gum disease may look like other medical problems. See a dentist for a diagnosis.
What Are the Different Types of Gum Disease?
The different types of gum disease are:
- Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. The gums are red, swollen, and tender. As a result, they may bleed easily during daily cleanings and flossing. Treatment by a dentist and proper care at home help to resolve gingivitis.
- Mild periodontitis. Untreated gingivitis can lead to mild periodontitis. This stage of gum disease shows pockets forming around the gums. Gums may pull away from the teeth. That can cause the crevice between the teeth and gums to deepen. Another sign is early loss of bone around the teeth. Prompt dental care is needed to keep the gums and bone from more damage.
- Moderate to advanced periodontitis. This is the most advanced stage of gum disease. It causes serious bone and tissue loss. It can also cause the pockets around the gums to become deeper. The gums around the teeth may also recede. As a result, teeth may loosen and need to be pulled.
Learn about treatment and prevention of gum disease.