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The Link Between Diabetes and Oral Hygiene

November 1, 2023

Those living with diabetes know the disease can affect the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and other important systems in the body. Did you know that diabetes can also cause problems in the mouth? Many people don’t realize there is a link between diabetes and oral hygiene. While the relationship between diabetes and other health issues like heart disease is commonly understood, the connection between diabetes and oral hygiene remains relatively under-discussed. However, the correlation is significant and essential for anyone with diabetes or at risk of developing the disease to understand.

Diabetes and Oral Hygiene

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to process sugar, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. This imbalance can wreak havoc on various systems of the body, and the mouth is no exception. Elevated blood sugar can lead to:

  • Gum Disease: People with diabetes are more susceptible to bacterial infections, and the mouth is a prime area for these. Periodontal disease, an infection of the gums and bones that hold teeth in place, is more common in people with diabetes. This can lead to painful chewing problems and even tooth loss.
  • Dry Mouth: Diabetes can decrease saliva flow, leading to dry mouth. Saliva is vital in keeping the mouth clean, and its absence can result in increased plaque, cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
  • Thrush: Those with diabetes might be more prone to a fungal infection called thrush, which appears as white patches in the mouth. This is because high glucose levels promote fungal growth.
  • Poor Healing: If you ever undergo dental procedures or surgery, diabetes might slow the healing process due to reduced blood flow to the treatment area.

Diabetes and Oral Hygiene


Managing Diabetes and Oral Hygiene

Maintaining your oral health isn’t just about preventing dental issues—it can also play a role in diabetes management. An infection in the mouth can lead to increased blood sugar levels, making diabetes harder to control. Managing diabetes properly can prevent or reduce the risk of oral health problems.

For those with diabetes or at risk of developing the disease, regular dental check-ups are crucial. Early detection of potential issues can prevent bigger problems down the line. Maintaining a diligent daily oral hygiene routine—brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash—will reduce risks significantly.

It’s also important to keep blood sugar levels under control. Regularly monitor blood sugar levels, maintain a balanced diet, exercise, and follow any prescribed medication routines. This holistic approach to health will not only benefit your oral health but will also ensure better overall well-being.

It’s essential to understand that the link between diabetes and oral hygiene goes two ways. While diabetes can lead to dental issues, existing dental problems can exacerbate diabetes symptoms. For instance, gum disease can increase blood sugar, increasing the time the body functions with high blood sugar and further exacerbating diabetes. Managing one effectively can help manage the other.

The relationship between diabetes and oral hygiene highlights the need for integrated healthcare approaches. Dental health is not isolated from the rest of the body, but connected to your overall well-being. 

Great Expressions Dental Center

We offer quality, convenient, and comprehensive dental care, with services ranging from preventative care to orthodontics and surgery. Don’t wait for problems to escalate; prioritize your oral health today. Call or visit to book your appointment.

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