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Did you know that gum disease, and its more serious counterpart, periodontal disease, is one of the most common infections in people around the world? If fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Restorative Dentistry in 2012, one-half of the US population aged 30 years and older, and 60 percent of those 60 years and older have periodontal disease. At a recent meeting of top experts around the world, scientists found that gum disease often goes hand-in-hand with another common disease, diabetes. More specifically, dental and diabetes researchers found that, compared with those with healthy gums, people with severe gum disease had:

  • higher long-term blood sugar levels (as measured by A1c)
  • might be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • maybe be at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • have a harder time controlling their type 2 diabetes
  • are at a higher risk of experiences harm to eyes and kidneys, as well as heart attack and stroke

Scientists believe that some of the bacteria present in infected gums is released into the bloodstream during normal daily activities, such a chewing and brushing. This in turn triggers a reaction from your body’s immune system, producing powerful inflammatory molecules that have harmful effects all over your body.

However, there is good news! In people with type II diabetes, treatment of severe periodontal disease (such as a deep cleaning) can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels – a benefit comparable to adding another diabetes medicine to your regimen. So to keep your gums as healthy as possible, diabetes or otherwise, make sure to brush your teeth two times a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, floss or use an interdental cleaner between your teeth, and visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Information provided sourced from the Journal of the American Dental Association