As you’re getting ready for work, you notice your mouth feels dry, almost like cotton. Going to the kitchen, you grab a glass of water, but you’re having a hard time quenching your thirst. In addition to your unexplained dry mouth, you feel a tingling in your feet that’s been happening for a few weeks now. When you return to the bathroom to begin brushing your teeth, you notice your gums are bleeding while brushing. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it could be that you have an undetected blood sugar disorder that is connected to severe gum disease in Houston. Find out more about this newly discovered link and what you can do to keep yourself healthy.
To understand how diabetes and gum disease are connected, we first need to better grasp what causes each of these harmful diseases. When there is too much sugar in a person’s blood, it is known as diabetes. Because blood sugar or “blood glucose” is a main source of energy, its origin comes from the food you ingest. In order for the glucose to transfer from the food to your cells for energy, your pancreas must produce enough of the insulin hormone. If your body is unable to make enough insulin, this can cause glucose to stay in your blood, resulting in serious health problems, some of which include:
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is when an infection in the gum tissue that most commonly occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene. When sticky bacteria (plaque) is allowed to build on your teeth and gums and harden, it can grow around the gum line and lead to bleeding gums, oral sores, and in the most severe cases, bone and tooth loss.
Researchers have been studying the causes and connections of diseases for many years, but only until recently has new research unveiled the possible connection between undetected blood sugar disorders and gum disease. A team of researchers in Sweden, led by Dr. Anna Norhammar, studied blood samples and examined the gum health of various participants. Once they eliminated those who had an official diabetes diagnosis, they concluded those with blood glucose disorders are at a much higher risk of having a heart attack and developing severe gum disease.
However, one of the most common health-related complications associated with someone who has gum disease is diabetes, so if you have one condition, you are essentially at risk for developing the other. Both weaken your immune system, making it harder to heal and fight off infection. When diabetes is present, you can expect to have trouble dealing with gum disease or healing from any type of dental or medical procedure. If a person has gum disease, the harder it is to manage blood sugar levels.
When it comes to treating diabetes and gum disease, there is no magical cure, only maintenance. In order to stay healthy and keep your gum, heart, and overall well-being in check, here are a few tips that can help:
Talk to your doctor about “normal” blood sugar levels and how to monitor your glucose.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. If possible, aim to brush after every meal.
Floss at least once a day and use an antiseptic mouthwash to rinse.
Eat healthy meals and snack. Limit the sugar and starches you’re ingesting, as it can result in harmful bacteria and plaque buildup.
Drink plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated and prevent dry mouth and bad breath.
Keep your regularly scheduled appointments with your periodontist in Houston. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, it might mean dental visits every three months instead of six.
Take control of your oral and overall health. If you find you’re having trouble maintaining or managing your diabetes or gum disease, don’t waste time. Talk to your dentist and/or medical doctor as soon as possible. The faster you seek treatment, the better off you, your mouth, and your body will be.
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