How diabetes affects your gums

Sponsored by Hawaii Dental Service

Did you know there’s a link between diabetes and gum disease? November is American Diabetes Month and Hawaii Dental Service wants to raise awareness about the fact that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease.

Diabetes continues to be on the rise here in Hawaii and Dr. Laurie K.S. Tom, endocrinologist with the American Diabetes Association Hawaii, shared some dramatic statistics with Hawaii Now. Diabetes and prediabetes affects nearly 600,000 people in Hawaii, close to 1 in every 2 of us. The doctor says Hawaii will continue to see a rise in diabetes if preventative steps are not taken, including complications linked with diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation, and oral health issues.

Everyone knows good oral health is essential to total body health. Your mouth is the entry way for nutrients to pass through your body and helps digest your food. Diabetes can affect the health of your teeth and gums and decrease a person’s ability to fight infection-causing bacteria.

When it comes to diabetes, research suggests individuals with the disease are at higher risk for certain infections such as gum disease, which is when bacteria invade the gums and cause them to recede and loosen the foundation of the teeth. Those with diabetes may also struggle with dry mouth, meaning having less saliva to wash away bacteria and break down the acids from foods, which may cause more cavities to form. Another infection to look out for is thrush, which is a fungus in the mouth.

Warning signs of oral infections are bleeding gums or if the gums are red, swollen or tender. Even if your gums don’t hurt, it’s best to get them checked. Also, if gums start pulling away from your teeth or if your teeth are starting to look longer than usual, it’s time to see a dentist. Other signs are pus between teeth and gums, bad breath, loose teeth and changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite.

About Hawaii Dental Service (HDS)
Hawaii Dental Service is the first and largest nonprofit dental service corporation in Hawaii providing dental benefit plans to more than a half million members. More than 95% of all licensed, practicing dentists in Hawaii participate with HDS, creating the largest network of dentists in the state. HDS has been operating in Hawaii since 1962. HDS serves more than half a million members in Hawaii.  Most Hawaii companies offer HDS dental plans to their employees. More than 95% of Hawaii’s licensed, practicing dentists are HDS participating dentists.  Visiting a participating dentist saves you money! HDS representatives provide quick and friendly customer service.  Call HDS Customer Service weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 529-9248 or toll-free at (800) 232-2533, ext. 248.  After hours, use our HDS Dental automated phone service at 545-7711 or toll-free at (800) 272-7204.

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