Connection Between Diabetes and Smoking to Gum Disease

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About one in five Australians have moderate-to-severe gum disease. This is concerning because it’s one of the most common inflammatory diseases that affect humans. It’s even more concerning when you consider the potential impact of diabetes and smoking on oral health.

This is a crucial connection that deserves attention, hence this blog post. Let’s delve into the intricate relationship between diabetes, smoking, and gum health.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, affects the soft tissues in the mouth that support the teeth. For individuals with diabetes, this connection is particularly significant. Here’s why:

Bidirectional Relationship

There’s a two-way connection between diabetes and gum disease. High blood sugar raises the risk of gum disease. On the other hand, periodontal disease can make it harder to control blood sugar, potentially increasing A1C levels.

Saliva Changes

Diabetes can alter the composition of saliva, which plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. Saliva lubricates the mouth, washes away debris, prevents bacterial growth, and protects oral tissues.

However, uncontrolled diabetes can reduce saliva production and increase glucose. This encourages the growth of bacteria, which combine with food to form plaque.

Inflammatory Response

People with diabetes often exhibit an intense inflammatory response to oral bacteria. Elevated blood sugar levels interfere with wound healing and increase the risk of gum damage. This further increases the risk of infections and gum disease.


People with diabetes are more likely to get gum disease than those without diabetes. A study found that only 54% of diabetes patients had visited a dentist in the past year. This suggests that in Australia, there is a need for better preventive dental care for those living with diabetes.

Smoking and Gum Disease

Smoking greatly increases the risk of gum disease, especially for people with diabetes. The chemicals in cigarette smoke weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infections that cause gum disease.

In addition, smoking causes inflammation and damages the gum tissue. This makes the gums more prone to infection, which can lead to periodontitis. 

Smoking also reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the gums. As a result, they don’t get the nutrients needed for optimal health, putting them at higher risk of disease.

Preventing and Treating Gum Disease

Poor oral hygiene plays a significant role, but the combination of smoking and diabetes intensifies the likelihood of gum problems. So, what can be done to break the cycle?

The key to preventing gum disease is an oral hygiene routine. This includes brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, and using mouthwash to reduce plaque and bacteria. 

Take Control of Your Gum Health!

Gum disease is a common but treatable condition that shouldn’t be ignored. A great first step is understanding the connection between diabetes, smoking, and gum health. This allows you to take proactive steps to reduce risk and maintain healthy gums. People with a history of gum disease are advised to ensure they have maintenance dental visits appropriate to their needs, and this is usually sooner than the average 6 monthly period  for those with  no gum disease history or have relatively healthy teeth and gums.

However, a consistent oral hygiene routine and regular dental checkups are your best defence against gum disease. That’s where The Bondi Dentists come in. We are a full-service dental clinic in Bondi Junction that offers long-term dental care.

Schedule an appointment today to find out how we can help prevent and treat gum disease.