Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes and Oral Health

Did You Know Diabetes can also cause Oral Health problems?

How Does Diabetes Affect the Mouth?

People who have diabetes know the disease can harm the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other important systems in the body. People with diabetes are at higher risk for periodontal (gum) disease, an infection of the gum and bone which hold the teeth in place. Dry mouth, often a symptom of undetected diabetes, can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.

Smoking makes these problems worse.

Oral complications can lead to tooth loosening, painful chewing difficulties, tooth decay and even tooth loss. There are also associated problems with tooth replacements, for example, implants, bridgework and denture wear, if required.

If I Have Diabetes, am I at Risk for Dental Problems?

If your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop gum disease, which in turn will cause loosening of some affected teeth, leading to tooth loss, more commonly found in diabetics than non-diabetics.

Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control. Other oral problems associated with diabetes include oral thrush, an infection caused by fungus which grows in the mouth , and dry mouth syndromes. These oral health problems can cause substantial oral soreness, chronic ulcers, and frequent oral infections, leading to tooth decay and dental cavities requiring restorative dental treatments.

How Can I Help Prevent Dental Problems Associated with Diabetes?

Good blood glucose control is key to controlling and preventing oral disease problems. Those patients with poor or fluctuating blood glucose control are unfortunately more prone to gum disease more often and more severely when compared with patients whose diabetes is well controlled.

Mouth inflammation and oral irritations are often common in diabetic patients. Dry mouth conditions and syndromes can lead to an increased risk of dental decay cavities.

Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental check-ups, and good blood glucose control are the best defense against the oral complications of diabetes. To prevent and control oral thrush, which is a fungal infection, maintaining good diabetic control and avoiding smoking will substantially help.

What about gum disease and diabetes?

You may not be aware that good oral health not only keeps the mouth and gums free from periodontal disease, but also has a significant impact on the control of diabetes. People with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop Periodontal Disease, which, like any other infection in the body, can impair their ability to process and manage the utilisation of insulin. People with diabetes also tend to have more severe levels of oral bone loss and often experience more aggressive mouth disease activity. This can ultimately lead to tooth loss, which can make chewing and digesting food more difficult. For people with diabetes, this can have a very negative impact on the ability to maintain a good level of nutrition and control blood sugar levels.

Existing gum disease in a patient who develops diabetes.

Just as diabetes can increase a patient’s chance of developing Periodontal Disease, research suggests that Periodontal Disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes, to control their blood sugar. Periodontal Disease increases the body’s systemic inflammatory signals which serve to increase blood sugar. This contributes to increased periods of time when the body functions with an unhealthy blood sugar level. It is important for people with diabetes to treat Periodontal Disease to eliminate the infection for optimal control of blood sugar levels.

Treatment Options

Periodontal, Gum Disease is a leading dental complication of diabetes. It is important for you to have an accurate diagnosis and treatment options. If detected early, Periodontal treatment can gum disease can be assessed in a comprehensive way, a plan put in place to manage and restore oral health, returning gums to health. Other options may involve treatment of tooth loss and tooth decay, with a range of restorative dental options, dental implant treatments, and crown and bridgework treatment options.

Benefits of Dental Treatment for the Diabetic Patient

Gum and diabetic health benefits for Periodontal treatment have been shown to improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, suggesting that treating patients’ periodontal disease could in many incidences decrease insulin requirements.

In the early stages of gum disease, treatment usually includes tooth scaling and root planning, a procedure in which plaque and calculus deposits are removed from the pockets around the tooth and near the gums.

Teeth and existing dental restorations can be evaluated for evidence of any potential problems, for example, enamel breakdown or decay resulting from many dry mouth conditions.

If diabetes is well controlled, treatment will be similar to the treatment of someone who doesn’t have diabetes. People with diabetes may want to schedule their dental appointments early in the morning after they have eaten a normal breakfast in order to stabilize and prevent a severe or sudden drop in blood sugar levels.

With a tailored treatment plan, your dental clinician and doctor can work together to help you control both your diabetes and dental disease.

Diabetes and Oral Health

Pus Exuding From Gums In A Diabetic Patient

Diabetes an Oral Health

Loss Of Gum Height And Infection Around Molar Teeth In A Diabetic Patient


American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
Irish Sleep Society
American Collee of Prosthodontists
The American Board of Prosthodontics

Are you a Patient, a Referring Dentist or a Doctor?