Diabetes & Oral Health

People with Diabetes are at a higher risk of experiencing oral health problems, such as gum disease, dry mouth, cavities or thrush. A Diabetic patient’s risk of these conditions is typically increased because of changes in blood sugar levels, medications and the body’s response to infection. If you have Diabetes, see your Dentist regularly to maintain optimum oral health.

Gum Disease

Gum disease (Gingivitis or Periodontal Disease) is an infection below the gum line and around your teeth. Anybody can develop gum disease, but it occurs more often and is typically more severe in patients with Diabetes. Some research has suggested that gum disease may actually make it harder for patients with Diabetes to control their blood glucose levels.

Gum disease occurs when a thin layer of bacteria or plaque collects around and along the gum line. If this layer of plaque is not removed regularly, it migrates further and further down and around the gums and the surrounding supporting structures and eventually hardens into tartar or calculus. Plaque can be removed by the patient with regular brushing and flossing; but once the plaque has hardened into tartar or calculus, the only way to remove it is to have your teeth professionally cleaned at your dental office.

As gum disease progresses, the gums recede and develop bigger and bigger pockets of infection around the teeth. The gums become red, swollen, tender and bleed easily. In advanced cases, the teeth will become loose and may require extraction.

Patients with Diabetes are at an increased risk of developing gum disease because of the way their body reacts to infections. A Diabetic patient develops more swelling of the gums, increased pocket depth around the teeth and the damage to the supporting structures is more rapid. A Diabetic patient’s ability to respond to an infection places them at a greater risk for disease progression and problems.

Dry Mouth & Cavities

Some of the medications used to treat Diabetes may contribute and cause dry mouth. In addition to being uncomfortable, dry mouth leads to bad breath, sore tongue or throat, difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking.

Denture patients may experience differences in the way their dentures fit and possible looseness of their appliances. Poorly fitting dentures can cause mouth sores, which tend to heal more slowly in Diabetic patients.

The risk for cavities is also increased in patients with Diabetes. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, and the use of a fluoride-containing toothpaste will help reduce the risk of cavities.


Thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth or throat and is seen more often in patients with Diabetes. It may appear as white and red patches on your tongue, cheeks, roof of mouth or throat. It may also cause cracking and redness on the corners of your lips. The affected areas may be uncomfortable or have a mild burning sensation.

 The yeast infection may also contaminate your night guard, dentures, retainers or sleep appliances which would prolong the duration that the infection may reside in the mouth.

The Dentist can give you an antifungal medication that would treat both the mouth and any oral appliances that may be affected.

Delayed Healing

Additional precautions are typically taken on Diabetic patients who have extractions, oral or gum surgery or other invasive procedures; because of the patient’s slower healing response and potential for developing secondary infections.

Please make sure to always keep our office updated on your health history or if you have Diabetes. Consult with your Physician to keep your blood glucose levels at optimum levels and see your Dentist and Dental Hygienist regularly to minimize your risk of dental problems.