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Diabetes and your Mouth


How can diabetes affect the health of my mouth?

Diabetes increases your risk for health problems in your mouth. These problems include gingivitis and gum disease. Gum disease damages your gums and the bone that holds your teeth in place. Severe gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Diabetes also increases your risk for other mouth problems, such as dry mouth, cavities, burning in your mouth, or thrush (fungal infection). Higher blood sugars cause higher levels of sugar in your saliva. This can lead to cavities and gum disease. Gum disease is more severe in people with diabetes. Gum disease also makes it harder to control blood sugar levels and increases inflammation throughout your body. Poor blood sugar control may make it harder to do oral surgeries, such as dental implants.

What are some signs and symptoms of mouth problems?

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Dryness, soreness, or pain
  • White patches on your gums, tongue, cheeks, or roof of your mouth
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Problems chewing, eating, or swallowing
  • Bad breath that does not go away when you brush your teeth

How can I keep my mouth healthy?

  • Keep your blood sugar within the recommended levels. Your diabetes care team provider will tell you what your blood sugar levels should be.
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day. Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day with fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist may recommend that you brush your teeth after each meal and sugary or starchy snack. Examples of starchy snacks include crackers and granola bars. Use dental floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day. Change your toothbrush at least every 3 months.
  • If you wear dentures, clean them regularly and take them out at night. Have your dentures adjusted if they do not fit right.
  • Regularly check your mouth for signs of problems. Contact your dentist if you notice any problems.
  • See your dentist regularly every 6 months for dental cleanings and oral exams, or as directed. Tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make mouth problems worse. Smoking further increases your risk of mouth problems such as gum disease and thrush. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can also cause lung damage and other health problems. Ask your care team provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your care team provider before you use these products.

When should I call my dentist?

  • You have mouth problems that get worse.
  • You develop any new mouth problems.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.