What is the link between diabetes and periodontal disease?

Peter Brown
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The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that diabetes and periodontal disease have a bidirectional relationship. This means that while high blood sugar increases the risk of gum disease, gum disease makes it difficult to control blood sugars, potentially increasing a person’s A1C levels.

Due to this, research has identified a link between periodontal disease and a higher risk of diabetes-related complications.

Diabetes can affect oral health by changing saliva. This fluid plays an important role by lubricating the mouth, washing away debris, preventing bacterial growth, protecting tissues, and fighting bacterial acids and tooth decay. However, uncontrolled diabetes may causeTrusted Source the salivary glands to produce a lower quantity of saliva. This saliva may also contain more glucose.

These changes in saliva result in a dry mouth, which encourages bacteria to grow here and combine with food to form plaque. If a person does not remove the plaque, it can build up on teeth near the gum line and develop into tartar. This hard substance requires treatment from a dental health professional to remove it. Without removal, tartar can result in periodontal disease.

People living with diabetes are more likely to have an intense inflammatory response to the bacteria. High blood sugar levels also interfere with wound healing and increase the risk of damage to the gums, which further increases the likelihood of infections and gum disease.

As such, people unable to keep their blood sugars within a healthy range are more likely to experience oral symptoms. These may includeTrusted Source:

. soreness

. bad breath

. chewing difficulties

. tooth loss

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition affecting those living with diabetes. Some sources note that it affects nearly 22% of those with diabetes. Other research also suggests that in the United States, almost one-quarterTrusted Source of people aged over 50 years who have diabetes will experience severe tooth loss, compared with about 16% of those without diabetes.

Evidence indicates that individuals with type 2 diabetes are roughly three times more likely to develop dental problems that those without the condition. People with type 1 diabetes also have an increased risk.

What is the link between diabetes and periodontal disease?