How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

Diabetes and Oral Health

In the Unites States alone, 29.1 million people have diabetes (1). People afflicted with this disease have problems regulating insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas to convert food into energy. There are two kinds of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (2) while with Type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin, which causes spikes in your blood sugar (3).

Since diabetic patients have a compromised immune system, they easily acquire bacterial infections around the gum tissues which increases their risk of periodontal (gum) disease. If left untreated, this could eventually lead to deterioration of the bone that supports the teeth. This causes teeth to become loose and may require the teeth to be removed. People with uncontrolled diabetes also have higher glucose levels in their saliva. That creates a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive and multiply, which causes plaque and tartar build up. This accumulation of bacteria around the teeth, above and below the gum line, can also result in serious, accelerated tooth decay, inflammation and infections in the mouth. Diabetic patients need to be especially careful when undergoing a dental procedure. Since they heal more slowly, they are at a greater risk of acquiring infections through their wounds. Keep your glucose level properly controlled with regular visits to your physician. Also, when you go for your regular dental checkups, let your dentist know if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. Retrieved from report-web.pdf

2. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Type 1 Diabetes. Retrieved from

3. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved from

4. American Dental Association. (2002, September). Diabetes and oral health. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 133. 1299

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