High blood sugar associated with diabetes leads to severe damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and vascular system. Also commonly associated with poor blood-sugar control is a higher tendency for infections and a delay of healing. These two effects are apparent in regard to gum disease as patients with poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to have gum disease or to have it in a more severe form. They are also more likely to have more bone loss around their teeth, more frequent gum abscesses, and to have worse treatment results. Conversely, good control of blood-sugar greatly decreases the risk of diabetic complications including gum disease and improves a patient’s likelihood of maintaining good oral health.

Not only can diabetes affect the health of your gums but gum disease can complicate diabetes care. For example, severe gum disease can increase the risk of poor blood-sugar control, which increases the risk of diabetic complications. On the other hand, good control of gum disease has been shown to not only improve the blood-sugar level but may also decrease the amount of insulin that is needed.

While your doctor is the primary health care professional who would diagnose diabetes, signs and symptoms indicative of diabetes may be evident to your dentist. Since 30% of people with diabetes do not know that they have diabetes, a dentist may be the first health care professional who suspects that you may have diabetes.