Are people with diabetes at greater risk of dental issues?

When you live with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels can affect everything from hunger and fatigue to dental health. No matter which type of diabetes you have, this condition can lead to serious dental complications. Find out how diabetes affects your oral health and what you can do about it. 

Dental Issues to Watch For

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. If you're diabetic, be on the alert for the following dental issues.

Dry Mouth

Many diabetics suffer from dry mouth, a condition that results from low saliva levels. Since dry mouth can contribute to both tooth decay and gum disease, talk with your dentist about options for keeping your mouth hydrated and your teeth healthy.

Cavities and Tooth Decay

Everyone has plaque, a film that forms on your teeth when the bacteria in your mouth interact with the sugars in the food you eat. Diabetics, however, have higher levels of sugar for the bacteria to interact with. If left unchecked, plaque can lead to painful cavities and even tooth decay.

Gum Disease

If you don't care for your teeth on a daily basis, plaque can build up and cause gum disease or gingivitis. Swollen gums that bleed easily are often a red flag indicating that you've developed gingivitis.


Also known as advanced gum disease, periodontitis attacks the bones that support your teeth. If you don't address this condition quickly, your gums can recede to a dangerous level, and your teeth might fall out. Diabetics who struggle to deal with infections can have a particularly difficult time recovering from this condition.

How to Prevent Serious Health Problems

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Since diabetes puts your dental health at risk, it's important to take extra precautions to keep your teeth healthy. Dentists generally recommend taking the following steps.

Brush Regularly

Everyone should brush their teeth at least twice a day, but this routine maintenance is even more important for diabetics. Be sure to brush in the morning and evening, and add in a midday session if possible. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle movements to keep your gums happy.

Floss Daily

Like brushing your teeth, flossing should be a part of your daily routine. Flossing helps remove bacteria that your toothbrush can't reach, and it goes a long way toward keeping both teeth and gums healthy.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

If your teeth are generally healthy, a biannual dental checkup should keep your teeth in good shape. If you're worried about the cost of regular exams, consider a Carefree Dental benefit. From dental checkups to root canals, this plan will help you save up to 50 percent on your oral care costs.

Since diabetics are at a higher risk of developing gum disease and other conditions, keep a close eye on your teeth and gum health in between visits. Schedule an earlier appointment if you notice swollen or bleeding gums, and tell your dentist that you have diabetes so you'll get appropriate care.

Diabetes can affect all aspects of your health, especially when it comes to your teeth and gums. Keep up a regular oral care routine, and maintain a line of communication with your dentist to ensure that you get the best care given your health needs.



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