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Diabetes and Oral Health

diabetes: dental tips; smiling manHow Does Diabetes Affect the Mouth?

People who have diabetes know the disease can harm the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other important systems in the body. Did you know diabetes can also cause problems in your mouth Working Together to Manage Diabetes: Tools and Strategies for Pharmacy, Podiatry, Optometry, and Dentistry?

People with diabetes are at special risk for periodontal (gum) disease, an infection of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. Periodontal disease can lead to painful chewing difficulties and even tooth loss. Dry mouth, often a symptom of undetected diabetes, can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay. Smoking makes these problems worse.

What can I do?

Good blood glucose control is key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with poor blood glucose control get gum disease more often and more severely than people whose diabetes is well controlled. Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental check-ups and good blood glucose control are the best defense against the oral complications of diabetes.

Health Information

For patients

  • Diabetes: Dental Tips
    This fact sheet describes warning signals of oral health problems as well as practical information for preventing the periodontal complications of diabetes. 
  • Prevent Diabetes Problems--Keep Your Mouth Healthy
    This easy-to-read booklet teaches people how diabetes can damage teeth and gums and how this damage can be prevented.  Focuses on proper dental care and frequent dental visits.  Part of a series on preventing diabetes problems.  
  • Diabetes Health Concerns
    Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how diabetes can affect many parts of the body, including oral health. 
  • Take Charge of Your Diabetes
    Information from the CDC on preventing dental complications from diabetes.
  • MedlinePlus: Diabetes and Oral Health
    The NIH National Library of Medicine's compilation of links to government, professional and non-profit/voluntary organizations with information on diabetes and oral health.

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This page last updated: August 25, 2014