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May 19, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
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How are Diabetes and Gum Disease Connected?  

It seems like an odd combination, doesn't it? It's known that gum disease, which is an infection of the gums, can also be linked to strokes and heart disease. But diabetes? Many people don’t think to associate diabetes and gum disease, however, they are linked. Obviously, gum disease doesn't cause diabetes, nor vice versa, but they do cause complications with each other. In this two-part blog series we will be looking at the connection between the two and how to tell if you have the symptoms.

Let's take a look at the signs of gum disease first.

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. You may also hear it referred to as periodontal disease. There are two different forms of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis- produces swollen gums that bleed easily when the teeth are brushed. Because gingivitis usually doesn't cause pain, many people don't get the treatment they need. It can also cause bad breath and very red gums.
  • Periodontitis- the worse of the two, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, causing gaps where bacteria can develop and damage the bone that supports the teeth. Gums can also shrink back from the teeth. This can make the teeth look longer. Teeth may become loose, fall out, or have to be extracted by a dentist.

It’s important to understand the symptoms of gum disease so you can get aid as soon as possible at the first sign of trouble. Here are some common questions to consider when evaluating if you may have gum disease.

  • Are your gums more red than normal?
  • Are they swollen?
  • Do your teeth feel loose?
  • Does it look like your gums are separating from your teeth?
  • Do you feel like you consistently have bad breath?


If you are experiencing these issues, or more, you should consult with your dentist as soon as possible to ensure the problems do not get worse. Typically the longer you wait, the worse the problems get and the more other issues can develop.  

So how is diabetes linked to gum disease?

Now that we have established the symptoms of gum disease, let’s next examine how gum disease can be linked to diabetes.

Slower, or inefficient, circulation: Diabetes slows the circulation of the blood by causing blood cells to thicken. The body's ability to ward of infections is reduced because of the reduced ability to carry nutrients to the tissue, as well as move waste away. This, in turn, can increase the risk of infections. Which also leads too...

Lower healing factor: Because of the poor blood flow, the ability to heal wounds is also reduced. Any necessary oral treatments needed to treat infections, or any surgery that is needed, will see a longer healing time.

Thrush: Utilizing an antibiotic is typically a solid course of action when battling an infection. When a person has diabetes, they are more prone to see  fungus grow on their tongue (thrush). High sugar levels in the saliva is what this fungus utilizes, something people with diabetes typically have. This leads into...

A “burning” in the mouth: If your tongue or mouth feels like it's on fire, or if your tongue feels hot, it's probably a symptom of your thrush.

These are just a few of the things people with diabetes need to be concerned with when it comes to diabetes. There's even worse news for smokers: a person with diabetes who smokes is at a much higher risk to develop thrush or gum disease. This goes back to poor blood circulation and a hindered ability to heal damaged tissue.








Dr. John Olsen

Dr. John Olsen

For over 24 years, Dr. John has been successfully restoring the smiles and improving the lives of people in the Milwaukee area with his expert knowledge and attention to detail.

Dr. John strives for excellence and holds a number of impressive titles including:

  • Diplomat in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI)

  • Mastership in Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) & Regional Director

  • Induction into the International College of Dentists

  • Certified with American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE)


He frequently is invited to speak and teach workshops around the country to help spread his expert knowledge in the dental fields. Additionally, he regularly attends trainings and workshops to continue his own education.


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