Link Between Diabetes and Oral Health

Posted by Sina Malekuti DDS, PC Mar 30,2023

Diabetes is a condition that affects your body’s ability to process sugar properly. Normally, your pancreas releases insulin that helps regulate your blood sugar. However, if your body isn’t producing enough insulin or if your cells are resistant to the hormones, blood sugar levels rise and can eventually damage organs such as the kidneys and eyes. It also increases your risk of gum disease due to elevated glucose levels in the mouth.

Diabetes and Oral Health

According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes – that’s about 9% of the population. Diabetes affects the entire body, including the teeth and gums. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of adult blindness, according to the American Diabetes Association. This occurs as a result of uncontrolled blood sugar levels that damage blood vessels in the eyes, as well as the kidneys and nerves in the body. These conditions can also negatively impact your oral health. Here’s a closer look at how diabetes and oral health are related.

Gum Disease

People with gum disease have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The inflammation associated with gum disease can make it more difficult to control your blood sugar. “The gum disease causes a bacterial build-up in the gums and the arteries leading to the heart,” explains Dr. Jonathan Shenkin. Over time, this bacteria can cause inflammation and damage to these tissues. When your gums bleed or are infected, it increases your risk of developing diabetes. The American Dental Association recommends regular brushing and flossing to prevent gum disease.

Gum Recession

If you have advanced gum disease, it may ultimately lead to gum recession. When there’s a pocket between the tooth root and gum tissue after a deep cleaning procedure, the supporting tissue and bone start to decay. Eventually, the tooth will become loose and may fall out. If you’ve lost one or more teeth because of gum disease, talk to your dentist about a dental implant or other restoration options to restore your smile.


People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cavities because they have difficulty controlling their blood sugars. If you have a dry mouth caused by medication or because you’re sick with a cold or the flu, you’re more likely to develop cavities. Additionally, eating sugary candies and drinking sugary beverages puts patients at an increased risk of having cavities.

Preventing Oral Complications From Diabetes

The link between diabetes and oral health means that diabetic patients should be especially vigilant about maintaining good oral hygiene habits, especially if they already suffer from high blood sugar or are having trouble controlling their condition. The American Dental Association advises that diabetics should undergo professional oral exams and cleanings at least twice a year. Regular dental care can help prevent the spread of infection and monitor gum health. Additionally, it’s important to brush twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride. Flossing daily is also important as it removes plaque between the teeth and the gum line. Patients who struggle to maintain proper hygiene should consult their dentist for personalized recommendations.

In addition to regular care, it’s especially important for diabetics to control their diet to prevent the worsening of symptoms related to their condition. This includes avoiding sugary drinks and foods as the excess glucose in the bloodstream may be absorbed into the mouth and lead to tooth decay. Eating a well-balanced diet can also help maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

To learn more, contact Sina Malekuti DDS, PC, at 6120 Brandon Ave Suite 303, Springfield, VA 22150, or call (703) 451-3211.

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