Your Mouth, Blood Sugar Levels and Healthy Aging

The Association between Mouth, Blood Sugar and Healthy Aging

For nearly 30 million Americans who have diabetes, many may be surprised to learn about an unexpected complication associated with this condition. Research shows there’s an increased prevalence of gum inflammation among diabetics, adding mouth disease to the list of complications associated with diabetes.

Is It a Two-Way Relationship?

Emerging research also suggests the relationship between gum disease and diabetes goes both ways. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to gum inflammation, serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.

Research suggests that people who are challenged  by blood sugar dfficulites are at higher risk for oral health problems. This includes gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (advanced gum disease).

Diabetics are at an increased risk for developing chronic gum inflammation because they generally have a decreased ability to fight the bacteria that invade gums. They are also at greater risk of losing teeth than non-diabetics.

Like all chronic inflammatory conditions, developing gum disease may be a factor that causes blood sugar levels to rise. As a consequence, diabetes becomes harder to control.

How Can I Help Prevent Dental Problems Associated with Diabetes?

The Association for Dentistry advises, “First and foremost, control your blood glucose level. Then take good care of your teeth and gums, along with regular [dental] checkups every six months.”

To control thrush (an oral fungal infection), maintain good diabetic control, avoid smoking and, if you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily. Good blood glucose control can also help prevent or relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.

The Association for Dentistry also advises, “People with diabetes have special needs and your dentist and dental hygienist are equipped to meet those needs—with your help. Keep them informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if [and when] your blood sugar is not in good control.”