Most people know diabetes can affect your nerves, kidneys, eyes and other bodily functions. But did you know that the condition can also affect your oral health? Patients with diabetes have a higher chance of developing periodontal disease, an infection of the gum and bone that hold the teeth. The condition can lead to bad breath that does not go away, pain, difficulty chewing, and, in severe cases, loss of teeth.

There are other oral health issues associated with diabetes. Here is a look at some of the conditions people with diabetes are at risk of developing.

  • Dry mouth: When diabetes goes unmanaged, it can reduce the saliva flow in your mouth, resulting in a dry mouth. A dry mouth leads to infections, soreness, tooth decay and infections.
  • Poor healing of oral tissues: Patients with unmanaged diabetes do not heal as fast after dental procedures or oral surgery. This is mainly because the blood flow to the treated site could be damaged.
  • Gingivitis and periodontitis: Diabetes causes weakened white blood cells and other issues that cause blood vessels to thicken. This will slow the flow of nutrients and waste products to and from the body tissues. With these issues, the body often losses the ability to fight infections. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and people with unmanaged diabetes are more likely to develop it more often.
  • Thrush: People with diabetes who ate often taking antibiotics to fight different bacterial infections are prone to developing fungal infections in the tongue and mouth. Fungus thrives in high levels of glucose in the saliva. Wearing dentures often can also lead to the development of fungal infections.
  • Burning mouth or tongue: This is often caused by thrush.

It is important to note that people with diabetes who smoke are at a higher risk of developing thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking impairs blood flow to the gums, which affects the wound’s healing process.

How Do You Prevent Oral Health Problems When You Have Diabetes?

People living with diabetes are more prone to conditions that may harm their oral health, and it is essential to practice good oral hygiene practices. It is also vital to ensure that you pay attention to any changes in your oral health and call your dentist anytime you notice any changes. Some of the things you can do to reduce your oral health problems include:

  • Keeping your blood sugar levels as usual as possible: During every dental visit, ensure you tell your dentist the status of your diabetes. It is also essential to inform your dentist of your low-sugar episode and how often they occur.
  • See your doctor before you start treating periodontal disease: Ask your doctor to talk to your periodontist or dentist about your overall health condition when you have oral surgery planned. You will be notified if you need any pre-surgical antibiotics, whether to change your meal scheduling and when you take the insulin.
  • Bring your dentist all the names and dosages of your medication: Your dentist will be able to know which medication is likely to interfere with the drugs prescribed for an infection.
  • Follow your doctor’s post-treatment instructions closely: It is important to note that the healing process might take much longer when you have diabetes.

What Are the Other Oral Hygiene Tips for People with Diabetes?

Here are some tips to always ensure that your oral health is in great condition:

  1. Have your gums and teeth cleaned and checked by your dentist at least twice a year
  2. Use dental floss at least once a day to prevent plaque buildup.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush of your teeth after every meal.
  4. Remove and clean your dentures daily
  5. If you are a smoker, talk to your doctor about quitting.
  6. Adopt a varied diet and limit beverages with added sugar
  7. Drink water that contains fluoride.


People living with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease. High blood sugar levels can negatively affect oral health and increase the risk of infection, which often leads to gum disease. On top of this, gum disease makes it very hard to control blood sugar levels.

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