The Impact Of Diabetes On Teeth & Gums

dentist looking at the teeth x-ray

Everyone learns about the basic tools involved in managing oral health. You’ve got the pillars of oral hygiene: A toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash. If you’re regularly practising good oral hygiene, chances are you have a healthy mouth. However, if you’re someone with diabetes, you might notice a drastic and significant change in your teeth and gums. 

But how exactly does diabetes affect your teeth and gums? 

We’re glad you asked. 

How It Works

People with diabetes have a greater risk of oral health problems that cause cavities, gum infections, loose teeth, or worse. It all comes down to poor blood sugar levels.  High blood sugar levels over time can affect one’s ability to fight infection and cause disturbances in blood flow at the capillary level which are the smallest blood vessels in the body.  These changes can drastically affect gum health.  

According to the American Dental Association, Periodontal disease is commonly seen in people living with diabetes. This disease is capable of destroying your gums and the tissues that hold your teeth in place. If your diabetes is left untreated, it can be more difficult to manage the growing complications of your oral health. 

Common Symptoms 

Good blood sugar control is pivotal when dealing with diabetes, especially when it comes to maintaining good oral hygiene. If your blood sugar levels are too high, you will be at risk of developing the following symptoms:

Gum Disease 

Whether it’s periodontal disease or gingivitis, gum disease can result in swollen or bleeding gums, intense pain, and worsening infections. When your blood glucose levels are high, the sugar in your saliva helps the bacteria grow. Higher blood sugar also lowers the body’s ability to fight infections. 

Letting bacteria fester in your mouth can lead to the formation of plaque, which can harden under the gum line and develop into tartar. The tartar can irritate your gums and cause swelling, bleeding, or the loosening of teeth.

To reduce the risk of gum disease, it’s integral to upkeep a solid brushing and flossing routine. 

Tooth Decay

When you consume foods or beverages rich in sugar and starch, they can interact with the growing bacteria in your mouth and create plaque. Plaque can stick to your teeth, and the acids within them can attack your enamel and dentin. Once your enamel has broken down, you may start to notice multiple cavities. 

Dry Mouth

Most people with diabetes will experience dry mouth. A lack of saliva can negatively impact your oral health. Saliva plays a pivotal role in preventing poor oral hygiene. Without saliva, leftover food particles, bacteria, and acids lingering in your mouth can’t be neutralized. According to Colgate, less saliva means an increased risk of cavities and gingivitis. 

Dry mouth can also cause salivary gland infections, mouth sores, irritation in the corners of the mouth, and thrush. 


People with diabetes are likely to develop thrush. Thrush is a fungal infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans. You can identify thrush as painful red or white patches inside your mouth and on your tongue. If you regularly practise good oral health and proper dental care, you can avoid the risk of thrush.


You know that diabetes affects your dental health, and it’s always a smart idea to prevent any possible dental problems. The last thing you want is to deal with intense dental procedures or painful fungal infections because you neglected your symptoms. 

You can prevent potential diabetes-related dental issues by the following:

  • Brush Your Teeth: It’s important to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal. Avoid brushing too vigorously and use proper brushing techniques with a soft-bristled toothbrush. 
  • Floss Daily: Use dental floss once a day. It can help remove plaque and reduce the risk of gum disease. 
  • Monitor Your Blood Sugar: Follow your doctor’s instructions for monitoring your blood sugar levels and keep them at/near target. The better blood sugar control you have, the less risk of a fungal infection or worsened dental problems. 
  • Follow a Healthy Diet: Maintaining a healthier diet and controlling your sugar intake can decrease the risk of infections and cavities. It can also promote better oral hygiene. 
  • No Smoking: Not only is smoking an unhealthy habit, but it can also increase complications with diabetes and oral health issues. 
  • Regular Dental Visits: Make sure to visit your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. Your dentist will be able to decrease the progression of the disease and prevent gum disease, cavities, and more. 

Managing diabetes while maintaining oral health can be a lot of work. Allow us to help you by making an appointment at your local Winnipeg dental office. We have a great team that provide cleanings, regular check-ups, and treatments that can prevent further issues. We’re always happy to accept new patients. Visit us today!