How Oral Health Affects Diabetes

The effects of diabetes can be felt throughout the body, including your mouth. For this reason, it is very important that people who are battling diabetes take care of their mouth since they face a higher possibility of having oral health issues as a result of their body’s inability to control blood sugar.

When diabetes is left unchecked, white blood cells in the body are damaged. It is these white blood cells that protect the mouth against bacterial infections.

High Risk Dental Problems Affecting Diabetes Suffers

There are certain oral health conditions that are exacerbated in people who have diabetes. These include:

Dry Mouth

The Reason for the Problem: Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to decreased saliva production resulting in dry mouth.

The Danger: A mouth that is not properly hydrated leads to ulcers, cavities, and infections.

Gum Inflammation

The Reason for the Problem: Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows down the flow of nutrients to the body as well as the removal of waste products from the body. This includes tissues in the mouth like your gums.

The Danger: When diabetes leads to gum inflammation, the result is that the body’s ability to fight gum infections is also reduced. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection. Individuals who have uncontrolled diabetes will have more frequent and more serious cases of gum disease.


The Reason for the Problem: Diabetes sufferers often need to take antibiotics to help them fight off infections. This in turn makes them more susceptible to fungal infections in the mouth and on the tongue.

The Danger: Fungus in the mouth grow at a faster rate since they thrive on the elevated levels of sugar in the saliva of people who have uncontrolled diabetes. Thrush can cause a sufferer to feel like their mouth or tongue is burning.

Diabetes Sufferers Must Take Special Care Of Their Mouth

People with diabetes are more susceptible to oral health conditions that can cause long-term damage. As a result of this, it is imperative that they pay close attention to any changes with their oral health. If changes occur, they should contact their primary physician or their dentist. Other steps that they should take include:

  • Keeping Blood Sugar Levels As Normalized As Possible
  • Use Dental Visits As a Way to Keep the Dentist up to Date with Your Diabetes Status
  • Consult Your Diabetes Doctor Prior To Visiting the Dentist for Periodontal Disease
  • Encourage Communication between Your Dentist and Your Diabetes Doctor
  • Supply Your Dentist With the Names and Dosages of Medication You’re Taking
  • Understand That the Healing Process Takes Longer with Diabetes
  • Contact the Orthodontist Immediately If Your Braces or a Retainer Break and Cut Your Mouth

Your Mouth Is a Gateway to Your Body

Researchers are learning more and more about the connection between what happens in our mouth and our overall health. Inflammation that begins in the gums can eventually lead to problems throughout the entire body.

DentistThis connection between mouth and body is even stronger in individuals who have diabetes. When inflammation begins in the mouth, it can weaken the body’s ability to control sugar. Researchers have also seen a link between periodontal disease and the body’s ability to control and use insulin. The battle between gum disease and diabetes creates a continual cycle. Diabetes helps to create the ideal conditions for gum infections. Gum infections in turn minimize the body’s ability to use insulin, therefore worsening diabetes symptoms.

Research has shown that there is a strong link between obesity and type II diabetes, which occurs when the cells in the body have become resistant to insulin. Researchers have also seen a decrease or elimination of type II diabetes symptoms in patients who lose weight.

The good news for individuals dealing with diabetes is that if they practice good oral hygiene habits, including brushing their teeth multiple times a day, using toothpaste with fluoride, flossing on a regular basis, and working to keep their sugar intake under control, they will be able to greatly reduce the potential for periodontal disease as well as completely eliminate the risk of tooth loss.

Bio –

This guest post is courtesy of The Center for Dental Excellence and Dr. Andrew Stoddard, one of the local dentists in Pocatello, Idaho. The Center for Dental Excellence offers many services for the whole family including crowns, dental implants and cosmetic dentistry.


  • Aimee Robison

    I never actually thought about oral health care, and diabetes having an affect on it. I found this to be a very interesting read. My mother has diabetes, so I will be forwarding this to her. Thank you for such a informative post.

  • Angelica

    My mom has diabetes and although she takes impeccable care of her teeth has always been plagued with issues. I’ll have to send this over to her, great article!

  • Vera

    Diabetes runs in my family, my mother developed it later on in life, knowing all this, I am going to take better steps to take care of my oral health. Definitely sharing this info with her too.

  • Nikolina

    Ok, so I am a diabetic for 22 years and it NEVER occured to me that I might have dental issues cuz of my illness.. Thank you for this post, much appreciated!!!!

  • polly

    I was diagnosed with Diabetes a year ago May. I take pills daily and have my levels under control. Word of advice…if there is a food you crave just have a taste or 2 and then your craving is satisfied. Good luck to all who are Diabetic.

  • Melanie Borhi

    I had no idea there were so many risk associated with having diabetes, it runs in my family and I am thankful I don’t have diabetes but I feel bad that individuals who have this condition have to deal with so much.

  • Jennifer Boehme

    I had no idea my diabetes would effect my dental health! I am going to do extra brushing, etc. Thanks for the information!!

  • Sandy Cain

    Periodontal disease is much more dangerous to the body as a whole – it affects the whole body. Besides diabetes, it’s been shown that the bacteria from perio disease enter the bloodstream and and can damage the heart and coronary arteries. (BTW….very often it is the dentist or dental hygienist who first suggests that the patient get a workup from their physician – signs of Type II diabetes can present in the oral cavity before the patient is aware of any endocrine problem).

  • Kelly

    This is a really interesting post. I never realized that diabetes effects the mouth as well. Good tips and things to keep aware of.

  • Pamela Gurganus

    I had no idea that oral health and diabetes were so closely related! I have several family members who have diabetes and I’ve never once heard them mention anything about oral health. I’m wondering now if they even know! I definitely will be sharing this information with them. Thank you!

  • John Thuku

    I never knew that diabetes could also travel towards the mouth. Thank you for sharing this. I will make sure to take good care of my mouth.

  • Tamra Phelps

    I was diagnosed with diabetes about 9 years ago. It ran in my family, so you’d think I would of recognized the symptoms, but I guess I was in denial. By the time I was diagnosed, I was a mess, with 2 different infections raging in my body (antibiotics don’t work when your glucose number is huge!) There were so many issues I never learned about until they hit me: mouth/gum issues, skin issues like very dry patches & rashes, and don’t get me started on the foot issues, lol.


    Dad was diabetic & went through all the usual hassles. He was lucky in that, generally speaking, his glucose levels were quite stable, but any infection & they’d go through the roof or plummet. He always had to take extra care regarding fungal infections.

  • Mai T.

    A very informative post! I’ve read articles that say how bad diabetes can get when oral care is neglected with all the graphical illustration.

  • Cathy French

    I never really thought of any kind of link between having diabetes and oral care. I do know that proper oral care actually helps someone be more immune to al ot of disorders.

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