How Diabetes Affects Teeth and Gums


Over 29 million Americans have diabetes, a disease that can negatively impact vision, the nervous system, heart health, and kidney function. Anyone who has been diagnosed, or has had a loved one diagnosed, knows how detrimental this terrible disease can be. But did you know that diabetes also affects oral health?

First and foremost, diabetes can greatly increase the chances of developing periodontal disease. According to an article on, “Periodontal disease is the sixth leading complication of diabetes. The article goes on to state that being diagnosed with diabetes increases the risk of developing gum disease by three to four times. Due to the nature of the illness, developing gum disease can be even more detrimental for diabetes patients, and they tend to have higher rates of bone and tooth loss should they develop it. But the link between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways. In fact, it has been discovered in recent years that the development of periodontal disease can increase blood sugar levels in diabetes patients, which requires a higher level of insulin to control them. Conversely, the treatment of periodontal disease has been shown to help lower and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Consistent, proper oral care is especially important in diabetes patients. Oral surgery is much more complicated for diabetics, because the disease slows down the healing process and makes them far more likely to develop infections. What’s more, blood sugar levels can be difficult to control post-surgery, and can climb to dangerously high levels. Maintaining regular dental visits to catch problems early-on can help prevent the need for surgery in the first place, especially concerning periodontal disease

In addition to gum disease and difficult recovery from oral surgery, diabetes can also cause a host of other problems, including dry mouth, thrush (a fungal infection that raises small white or red sores in the mouth), and “burning mouth syndrome.” The best way to prevent these complications from arising is to treat diabetes properly and consistently, stay in close contact with the primary care physician, and maintain excellent oral care habits, including regular examinations with a dentist. Unfortunately, diabetes can be very unforgiving when it comes to a lapse in healthy habits, including oral care.

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Dr. Raymund Tanaka cares for patients in Glendale, Arizona and specializes in helping his patients achieve lasting oral health.

August 20, 2019