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How diabetes affects your oral health

What you can do to maintain a healthy smile

People with diabetes — an estimated 34.2 million people in the United States — are more likely to develop dental health issues than those without it.

Infections tend to be more severe in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, you may also experience diminished salivary flow and an increased presence of microorganisms that feed on sugar in the saliva, which can both lead to a higher incidence of tooth decay. Furthermore, if you don’t control your blood sugar, you may experience increased oral health problems, particularly gum recession (also known as shrinkage).

Fortunately, if you have diabetes, there are steps you can take to help you maintain good oral health.

Tips for dental health care

To avoid costly and painful dental issues and enjoy healthy teeth and gums, you should:

  • Receive proper dental care and strive to control your insulin levels. This can help prevent gum disease.
  • Maintain good dental health care to prevent mouth infections. Mouth infections require immediate treatment. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses and more frequent cleanings to help you avoid complications related to bacterial infections.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels and have your triglyceride and cholesterol levels checked regularly. There may be a direct correlation between unhealthy levels and elevated chances of developing periodontal disease.

When is the best time to receive dental care?

If you blood sugar isn’t under control, you should talk with both your dentist and physician about receiving proper dental care. Dental procedures should be as short and as stress-free as possible. It’s a good idea to make morning appointments, because blood glucose levels are more likely to be under control at this time of day.

Last updated July 21, 2021

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.