Diabetes may impact your dental health, but with a little extra care and attention, you can keep your mouth healthy and your teeth strong.
Research shows that there is a strong connection between diabetes and oral health issues. People with diabetes, for example, have a higher risk of getting gum disease, an infection of the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place. According to the American Dental Association, about 22 percent of people with diabetes are diagnosed with gum disease. To make matters worse, gum disease makes controlling blood glucose levels more difficult.
People with diabetes, especially poorly controlled diabetes, are more prone to developing certain oral health problems.
Glucose-rich saliva can encourage harmful bacteria to grow and plaque (a sticky substance) to form. Too much plaque can lead to tooth decay, periodontitis (advanced gum disease), and bad breath. This is another reason why maintaining healthy blood glucose levels is so important for your oral health. If you do not manage your blood glucose levels, you may be more likely to develop advanced gum disease—where your gums separate from your teeth—and lose teeth. About one in five cases of total tooth loss is linked to diabetes.
The good news is that, if you keep your blood sugar under control, your risk of developing gum disease and other oral health issues is no greater than someone without diabetes. When you have diabetes, knowledge, diligence, and good habits can go a long way toward keeping your mouth healthy and your teeth strong.
Since uncontrolled diabetes can increase your risk of developing gum disease, it's important to be on the lookout for signs of oral health problems. Symptoms to watch for include:
The two most important steps you can take to prevent gum disease and other oral health issues are keeping your blood sugar levels in check and seeing your dentist regularly (about every six months). Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes and about any other dental health issues or concerns you have. In addition to these two crucial steps, you should:
By Joelle Klein
American Dental Association, Diabetes and Your Smile
WebMD.com, Diabetes and Periodontal Disease
American Diabetes Association, More on the Mouth
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Diabetes, Gum Disease and Other Dental Problems
American Diabetes Association, Diabetes and Oral Health Problems
Healthline.com, Type 2 Diabetes and Oral Health
American Diabetes Association, Warning Signs
American Dental Association, 5 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Mouth
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.