November 17, 2022 By: Tori Tijan

What is the correlation between diabetes and oral health? November is Diabetes Awareness Month so we will be sharing some information on best oral health practices, common issues, as well as warning signs and prevention.

Diabetes affects more than 37 million people of all ages in the United States today and almost 22% of those diagnosed are affected by periodontal disease, or gum disease.

“The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that diabetes and periodontal disease have a bidirectional relationship. This means that while high blood sugar increases the risk of gum disease, gum disease makes it difficult to control blood sugars, potentially increasing a person’s A1C levels.”

If you are over the age of 50 and have diabetes, then the risk is increased as dental problems and age tend to go hand-in-hand. Keep reading to learn more about common dental issues seen in patients that have diabetes and how to prevent them.

Oral Health and Hygiene Practices

Some of most important oral health and hygiene practices that can be done at home include using dental floss at least once per day, brushing teeth after every meal, cleaning dentures daily, and avoiding smoking.

Having your teeth and gums cleaned and checked out by your dentist and/or dental hygienist is recommended at least twice a year, however it is up to you and your dentist to discuss and decide how often you will need these cleanings and checkups.

By practicing these crucial oral hygiene practices, you can reduce or eliminate the risk of teeth and gum issues as well as infections and complications.

Which oral hygiene products should I use?
When shopping for oral health products, the best rule of thumb is to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This seal, awarded by the American Dental Association, means that the product has been rigorously tested and approved by scientists in fields like microbiology, toxicology, pharmacology and chemistry. Depending on your specific situation, your dentist may make personalized product recommendations. Ask your dentist which products are right for you.”

Common Dental Issues Among Patients with Diabetes

People that have Diabetes are at a higher risk of these dental issues specifically; dry mouth, gum inflammation, thrush, burning mouth/tongue, and difficulty healing. Poor blood sugar control is one of the main factors in increasing the risk of gum-related issues, due to white blood cells in the body becoming weakened and unable to fight infections in the mouth. Working on keeping blood sugar levels under control, combined with the oral hygiene habits listed above will prevent infections, gum disease, and other painful conditions.

Common warning signs of these oral health conditions:

Gingivitis (Gum Disease): gums are bright red, bleeding and feel sore or painful

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia): slowed saliva production

Thrush: white or red patches on the tongue and inside of the cheeks

Burning Mouth Syndrome: burning sensation along with tingling or numbness

“Periodontal disease is commonly seen in people with diabetes, and is considered a complication of diabetes. Interestingly, the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is seen to be bidirectional, meaning that hyperglycemia affects oral health while periodontitis affects glycemic control (e.g., increased HbA1c). Research also suggests that periodontitis is associated with poor glycemic regulation, but the evidence is inconsistent, particularly in patients with type 1 diabetes. Most research indicates an association between periodontal disease and increased risk of diabetes-related complications.”


It is important to keep your dentist up to date on your current status including HbA1c test results, low blood sugar episodes, and insulin usage.

It is also recommended to bring your dentist a list of the medications that you are currently taking, especially in the case of a major procedure or infection.

Finally, make sure that you are seeing your dentist or visiting a Dental Home twice a year in order to make sure that your mouth stays clean and healthy and your smile stays happy!

To learn more about periodontal disease and diabetes from the American Dental Association click here:

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