Diabetes and Dental Health
How can diabetes affect my mouth?
Too much glucose also called sugar, in your blood from diabetes can cause pain, infection, and other problems in your mouth. Your mouth includes
- your teeth
- your gums
- your jaw
- tissues such as your tongue, the roof and bottom of your mouth, and the inside of your cheeks
Drawing of the profile of a woman’s face with the jaw labeled. Inset of the mouth with the teeth, gum, roof of the mouth, bottom of the mouth, tongue, and inside of cheek labeled
Glucose is present in your saliva—the liquid in your mouth that makes it wet. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful germs, called plaque, grow. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease.
Gum disease can happen more often, be more severe, and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. In turn, having gum disease can make your blood glucose hard to control. Some studies show that treating your gum disease makes it easier to control your blood glucose.
How will I know if I have mouth problems from diabetes?
Check your mouth for signs of problems from diabetes. If you notice any problems, see your dentist right away. Some of the first signs of gum disease are swollen, tender, or bleeding gums. Sometimes there are no signs of gum disease. You may not know you have it until you have serious damage. Your best defense is to see your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup.