What is the link between gingivitis and diabetes?

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Carol Jahn
Dentist
People with diabetes are 2-3 times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Children with diabetes have been shown to have more inflammation and gingivitis than children without diabetes. It also appears that people who have a hard time controlling their blood sugar are more likely to have the most severe cases of both gingivitis and periodontal disease.

The connection between the two diseases centers on inflammation. Diabetes impairs the healing process and causes the body to produce agents that are responsible for chronic inflammation. It is the chronic inflammatory state that causes gum pocketing, bone and tooth loss.

If you or a loved one has diabetes the best thing to do is make sure you have regular dental exams and cleanings. It is also very important to practice good home care every day including cleaning between your teeth. One product that is ideal for people with diabetes is the Water Flosser. It has been tested on people with diabetes and been shown to reduce bleeding by 44% and gingivitis by 42% over traditional methods.
While there is no conclusive research showing that severe gum disease causes diabetes, studies indicate that it may be associated with several health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. 

But just because the two conditions are associated does not mean that one causes the other; it only means that some studies have shown that more people with gum disease experience one of the conditions mentioned above than people without gum disease. This finding could be the result of another factor, like smoking. For example, people who smoke are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer as well as gum disease. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to establish whether a cause-and-effect relationship exists and to determine if, or how, treating gum disease may affect your overall health.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop gingivitis, because diabetes lowers their resistance to such an infection. Diabetes also increases healing time, so gingivitis may appear more severe and last longer in those with diabetes. Adequate control of blood sugar levels, good oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups can reduce the risk of gingivitis in those with diabetes.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.