Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

How Does Periodontal Disease Develop? continued...

Periodontitis. Periodontitis is an infection of the tissues that hold the teeth in place. In periodontitis, plaque builds and hardens under the gums. The gums pull away from the teeth, forming "pockets" of infection. The infection leads to loss of the bone that holds the tooth in its socket and might lead to tooth loss.

There are often no warning signs of early periodontitis. Pain, abscess, and loosening of the teeth do not occur until the disease is advanced. Since periodontitis affects more than just the gums, it cannot be controlled with regular brushing and flossing. Periodontitis should be treated by a periodontist (a gum disease specialist) or by a general dentist who has special training in treating gum diseases.

How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?

Plaque Removal. Treatment of periodontitis depends on how much damage the disease has caused. In the early stages, the dentist or periodontist will use deep cleaning to remove hardened plaque and infected tissue under the gum and smooth the damaged root surfaces of teeth. This allows the gum to re-attach to the teeth. A special mouthrinse or an antibiotic might also be prescribed to help control the infection.

Deep cleaning is successful only if the patient regularly brushes and flosses to keep the plaque from building up again.

Periodontal Surgery. Gum surgery is needed when periodontitis is very advanced and tissues that hold a tooth in place are destroyed. The dentist or periodontist will clean out the infected area under the gum, then reshape or replace the damaged tooth-supporting tissues. These treatments increase the chances of saving the tooth.

If You Have Diabetes...

  • It's important for you to know how well your diabetes is controlled and to tell your dentist this information at each visit.
  • See your doctor before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease. Ask your doctor to talk to the dentist or periodontist about your overall medical condition before treatment begins.
  • You may need to change your meal schedule and the timing and dosage of your insulin if oral surgery is planned.
  • Postpone non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control. However, acute infections, such as abscesses, should be treated right away.
  • For the person with controlled diabetes, periodontal or oral surgery can usually be done in the dentist's office. Because of diabetes, healing may take more time. But with good medical and dental care, problems after surgery are no more likely than for someone without diabetes.
  • Once the periodontal infection is successfully treated, it is often easier to control blood sugar levels.

Are Other Oral Problems Linked to Diabetes?

Dental Cavities. Young people with IDDM have no more tooth decay than do nondiabetic children. In fact, youngsters with IDDM who are careful about their diet and take good care of their teeth often have fewer cavities than other children because they don't eat many foods that contain sugar.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article