Answering Questions About How Diabetes Affects Your Oral Health

A pair of people smiling showing off their new crowns.

Diabetes is a chronic, systemic disease in which the body can’t make enough insulin or use it properly to help the cells get the glucose they need to function. This leads to high blood sugar levels, which can increase the risk of a wide range of health complications. If you have diabetes, be sure to inform your dentist at your next appointment. This disease can affect your oral health.

Can diabetes cause periodontal disease?

The association between diabetes and gum disease appears to be a two-way street. This means that having diabetes can increase your risk of getting gum disease. And while gum disease by itself can’t cause diabetes, there is evidence to suggest that periodontal infections can make blood glucose control more difficult. People with diabetes have a harder time fighting off infections in general because their immune system may not function as well.

Can diabetes cause any other oral health problems?

People with diabetes whose blood glucose levels are poorly controlled can be at a higher risk of dry mouth. Also called xerostomia, this oral health problem increases the risk of cavities, mouth soreness, and mouth ulcers. Diabetics are also at a higher risk of oral thrush, which is a fungal infection.

How can I tell if I have oral thrush?

Your dentist can determine whether you have oral thrush. Its symptoms include the presence of white lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks. If the lesions are scraped, some minor bleeding can develop. People with oral thrush may also experience loss of taste, a cottony feeling in the mouth, and difficulty eating.

How can I improve my oral health?

It’s absolutely essential to manage your blood glucose levels carefully. Work with your diabetes care team to learn how to get your blood sugar within the target range. Brush and floss your teeth thoroughly every day, and see your dentist regularly. Your dentist may suggest coming in for a checkup more frequently than twice per year.


Here at Manela Dental, we take pride in providing exceptional patient education. Our dentist in Tucson is always happy to answer questions from our patients about their oral health and treatment options. Call a friendly staff member at (520) 744-2039.