Diabetes and Oral Health

Smiling senior man in a dental chair holding a hand mirror

Visit your dentist for regular checkups to prevent problems.

A healthy mouth is important for everyone, but high blood sugar can make it harder to keep your mouth healthy. If you have diabetes, learn how you can avoid oral health problems and keep a smile on your face.

Taking good care of your mouth is essential to general health and well-being—it even affects your self-esteem. Good oral health habits can help prevent pain and infections from tooth and gum disease.

If you have diabetes, taking care of your teeth is even more important. High blood sugar can weaken white blood cells. These are your body’s main way to fight infections that can occur in the mouth.

Keep that smile on your face, though! By managing your diabetes, you manage more than your blood sugar—you’re helping to prevent gum disease and other infections in your mouth.

More Than a Sweet Tooth

If the sugar level is high in your blood, it’s high in your saliva too. Bacteria in plaque, a sticky film, use sugar as food. Some of this bacteria can cause tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. If the tooth is not treated, it can also lead to tooth loss.

Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes. If you have gum disease, your diabetes may be harder to manage.

Here’s a quick look at how diabetes can take its toll on your oral health:

  • You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry. (Dry mouth is also caused by certain medicines.)
  • Your gums may become inflamed and bleed often (signs of gum disease).
  • Infections in your mouth can take longer to heal.

Keep Your Mouth Healthy and Happy

Treating gum disease may be able to help lower your blood sugar over time.

Regular dental visits are important to prevent problems. Follow your diabetes care schedule. Keep regular dental visits for professional cleanings, X-rays, and checkups. Ask your dentist how often you should have your teeth checked.

Don’t Miss Your Visit

Keep regular dental visits for checkups and professional cleanings. Follow your diabetes care schedule to help stay on track.

Here are a few more important tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Tell your dentist if you have diabetes.
  • If your gums are red, swollen, or bleed easily, see your dentist. These may be signs of gum disease. Other signs include dry mouth, loose teeth, or mouth pain.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking increases your risk of gum disease and can worsen your diabetes.
Page last reviewed: May 7, 2021