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Diabetes Can Cause Serious Dental Problems

If you have diabetes, make sure you take care of your mouth. People with diabetes are at risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).

Other problems diabetes can cause are dry mouth and a fungal infection called thrush. Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Diabetes may also cause the glucose level in your saliva to increase. Together, these problems may lead to thrush, which causes painful white patches in your mouth.

You can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing everyday, and visiting a dentist regularly, you can help prevent periodontal disease. If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop problems in your mouth.

Oral Care Tips

  • Control your blood glucose
  • Brush at least twice a day
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes
  • Tell your dentist if your dentures (false teeth) do not fit right, or if your gums are sore
  • Quit smoking because it makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit
  • Take time to check your mouth regularly for any problems. Sometimes people notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. Others notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are reasons to visit your dentist. Remember, good blood glucose control can help prevent mouth problems.


Information for this article provided by:

NIDCR (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research)

Last Reviewed May 2005

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