The Gum Disease/Diabetes Link Explained

SAN FRANCISCO- If you keep current with health news, you’ve learned gum disease is linked to a variety of systemic health conditions. Gum disease is more than “linked” to one common malady, however.

Diabetes and gum disease are interrelated. It’s estimated that one in three diabetics experiences periodontitis (severe gum disease) at some point in their life. The American Academy of Periodontology even lists gum disease as a “complication” of diabetes. Diabetics are more likely to experience gum disease and vise versa.

Yes, having a severe case of inflammatory gum disease can increase your risk of developing diabetes. The two-way connection is pinned on the inflammation triggered by infection in the periodontium, which makes blood sugar more difficult to control. After examining the relationship between periodontitis and diabetes, here’s what the American Dental Association had to say:

“While inflammation plays an obvious role in periodontal diseases, evidence in the medical literature also supports the role of inflammation as a major component in the pathogenesis [development] of diabetes and diabetic complications.”

More than nine percent of the adult population suffers from diabetes, according to the ADA. That equates to 20 million people. Diabetes leaves its victims highly susceptible to bacterial infections such as gum disease. Those who struggle to keep their diabetes under control are especially at risk.

It takes more than clean gums to reverse a case of diabetes, but research suggests treatment of inflammatory gum disease has a positive effect on diabetic condition.

“Managing dental and periodontal health is an easy way to improve and sustain your overall wellbeing,” says San Francisco dentist Dr. Robert Walley. “By putting good dental hygiene habits into practice, you can reduce your chances of acquiring systemic health conditions, not to mention gaining a strong smile.”

Here’s what our staff at Robert M. Walley, D.D.S. suggests: 

  • Gently brush teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush for two minutes at least two times each day. We recommend Sonicare toothbrushes. Be sure to reach the gum line and tongue.
  •  Floss daily. This removes irritants from the gum line.
  • Visit Dr. Walley for preventive care two to four times each year, depending on your dental health. We’ll let you know how frequently you’ll need preventive care at your next appointment.

Contact our San Francisco office to learn more.