Diabetes: It's Connection to Oral Health

Diabetics are more prone to several oral health problems, including tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, salivary gland dysfunction and infection.

FAQs

I have diabetes. What do I need to know about the disease as it relates to my oral health?
Diabetic patients are at greater risk for tooth decay due to the presence of higher bacteria levels found in saliva when diabetes is not under control. As diabetes can lower resistance to infection, periodontal disease can develop.

Diabetic patients often suffer from dry mouth, which greatly increases their risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease. Talk to your dentist if you are experiencing dry mouth and he or she may recommend a saliva substitute, as well as fluoride treatment to prevent tooth decay. To alleviate the discomfort of dry mouth, try chewing sugarless gum or mints, drinking water or sucking on ice chips. 

Oral candidiasis, a fungal infection in the mouth, tends to occur more frequently in diabetic patients, especially if the person smokes, has high blood glucose levels or takes antibiotics.

What should I tell my dentist about my diabetes?
It is important to let your dentist know if you suffer from diabetes and if the disease is under control. At each visit, let your dentist know your most recent glycosylated hemoglobin (HgA1C) level and if you’ve had any recent hypo or hyperglycemic episodes. If you take insulin, tell your dentist when you normally take insulin and when your last dose was taken.

Resources

American Dental Association: Diabetes
News Release: Diabetes - It's Connection to Oral Health