Is There a Link Between Dental Health and Diabetes?

Posted on: February 17, 2019

Dental health and diabetes share a common thread. Dental health is directly linked to overall health, and your mouth can both affect and be affected by processes in the body that may seem disconnected. Blood sugar control starts with keeping a clean, healthy mouth.


There are two types of diabetes: Type I and Type II. In Type I diabetes, the body cannot make enough insulin. Type II diabetes means the body stops responding to insulin. Both result in high sugar levels in the blood.

Insulin is a hormone which acts as the transporter for carrying sugar from the bloodstream into cells. When these cells do not receive enough sugar, they are not able to convert it into usable energy. Diabetes can cause problems across all parts of the body, specifically the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and mouth.

Diabetes and dental health

Signs of undiagnosed diabetes span from weight loss and fatigue to unpleasant symptoms in the mouth. With untreated diabetes you may experience:

  • Gum disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Cavities
  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Problems tasting food
  • Delayed healing of wounds and ulcers inside the mouth
  • Thrush

Gum disease

The single most common dental health problem affecting those with diabetes is gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease, this infection happens when bacteria settles under the gumline. When it advances unchecked, even mild cases of gingivitis can go on to destroy tissue and even jawbone.

Those afflicted with diabetes are not able to fight off infection as easily. Poor blood sugar control is the main culprit. Serious infections are linked to an increase in blood sugar levels. In turn, this makes the symptoms of diabetes harder to control, as you are more susceptible to bacteria attacking the gum tissue.

Work with your dentist to fight diabetes

It is true that diabetes can cause a higher occurrence of gum disease, but it also works the other way around. Gum disease can also affect blood sugar levels. Treating gum disease will help to control blood sugar and can even impede the progression of diabetes.

Good dental health can also help to lower your HbA1c, the medical term for the average blood glucose levels measured in the last two to three months to evaluate the progression of the disease. A diligent brushing and flossing routine mixed with frequent deep dental cleanings can actually help to control blood sugar.

How to improve your dental health and slow diabetes

Eat clean by substituting empty carbohydrates for leafy greens and nutritious vegetables. Foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium will support healthy teeth and gums. Choosing healthy foods will help to control your blood sugar and relieve dry mouth.

Never skip a dental cleaning or a session of brushing your teeth. Missing even one step in the tooth cleaning routine can let bacteria run amok and increase your risk of gum infection. Those with diabetes should never smoke, as this habit can affect blood pressure and cause dental deterioration.

The benefits of keeping your mouth healthy are endless, especially when you are fighting a disease like diabetes. Improving your dental health can help to increase your overall health, lower blood sugar levels, and lessen the effects of diabetes. Contact a dental professional near you to get the help you need!

Request an appointment here: or call North Tampa Dentistry at (813) 430-0933 for an appointment in our Tampa office.

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