Oral Health Issues and Diabetes: How They Are Related?



In the past decade, there has been some extensive research on oral health issues that has been conducted in order to find the relation between oral health issues and diabetes.  Diabetes mellitus 2 affects the ability of sugar production in our body. So, when this happens all the food that you consume is altered to sugar and utilized for the formation of energy.

The body fails to produce enough insulin in Type 1 diabetes to use the sugar for energy production. Sugar is carried by this hormone (insulin) up to the cells, called uptake, where it is converted to energy required from the blood.  When the body has an over abundance of glucose (sugar) in the blood, the body refuses to respond to insulin in case of Type 2 diabetes, which is a condition called insulin resistance.

In both cases, there can be a high diabetes level that can cause significant issues in several parts of your body, like your eyes, kidneys, nerves and your oral health is not an exception to that.

First let us discuss the symptoms of diabetes.


Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

Here are some of the symptoms of diabetes.

  • Frequent Urination
  • Persistent Thirst or Hunger
  • Gums Can Get Inflamed and Start Bleeding
  • Loss of Weight Without Trying to Lose Weight
  • Limited Amount of Saliva Causing Mouth to Feel Parched –Dry Mouth
  • Higher Cavity Formation as Saliva Helps to Protect the Teeth from Cavities
  • Dry and Itchy Skin
  • Delayed Healing of Wounds
  • Numbness or Tingling in the Hands and Feet
  • May Have Issues in Testing Food
  • Kids with diabetes Can Have Teeth Erupt at an Early Stage Than is Normal


Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

periodontal disease

Your blood sugar level becomes more difficult to control when you have oral health issues, such as periodontal disease.  The reaction of your body to control gum disease can enhance your blood sugar level to a great extent.

WebMD reports that germs and bacteria in the mouth that lead to gum disease often thrive on sugar (glucose), and diabetics have an over abundance of blood glucose.  This is one reason people with undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes tend to have a higher instance of oral health issues, like gum disease and tooth loss.

As result of that, it is vital for diabetic patients to get treated and eradicate periodontal disease so that diabetes can be controlled optimally. Periodontal disease treatment together with antibiotics has proven to reduce the level of blood sugar in diabetics. Thus, it proves that if periodontal disease is treated well, it can decrease the requirements of insulin.


Diabetes and Other Oral Issues

There are many other oral health issues apart from periodontal disease that is caused by diabetes. Although it is difficult to completely avoid these problems but you can reduce the intensity of the problem to a great extent. Here are some of the oral problems that are intensified by diabetes.


  • Fungal Infection –Candida albicans happens to be a fungus residing inside the mouth and does not cause any issues. But when you have high blood sugar the extra sugar in the saliva and deficient saliva make the bacteria to cause thrush or candidiasis that appears as red or sore areas in the mouth.
  • Dry Mouth – This is already mentioned as a symptom of diabetes. Dry Mouth is also known as Xerostomia that occurs when the salivary glands fail to produce ample saliva for keeping the mouth moist. The tissues get sore and inflamed as a result of that. This makes tasting, chewing and gulping more challenging that makes it tougher to control diabetes.
  • Dental Decay –Enhanced blood sugar level in a diabetic increases the amount of sugar content in the saliva and also cause dry mouth. This leads to the formation of dental plaque that results in cavities and tooth decay.
  • Complications in Oral Surgery – Blood sugar or diabetes if not well-controlled can give rise to complications in oral surgery. High blood sugar enhances the infection risk and retards the process of recovery. After a surgery, your sugar level can be quite difficult to control. In this case, your dentist must work with the physician for reducing complications.
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome – If you feel severe pain and burning in your mouth even if you do not find any problem that causes it, then you may have this syndrome.


Oral Health and Diabetes Care Regime

how to brush teeth

Professional care and self-care both are necessary to take good care of your oral health issues and for slowing the progress of the diabetes in your body. Here are some ways that you can control the dental and diabetes complications-


  • Follow the advice of the doctor about the medication and diet to keep the level of blood glucose as close to optimal as possible. This way you can help to fight bacterial infection in your mouth and this also helps to relive the dry mouth.
  • Avoid having a dry mouth and start having sugar-free gums for saliva production and drink lots of water to keep the mouth moist.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Clean any dental implants or dentures if your have any on a regular basis.
  • Visit the dentist daily for oral check-ups in order to detect any early signs of periodontal disease, tooth decay or any other complications. This way you can take actions early like immediately going for gum or tooth decay treatment or immediately visit your physician for controlling your blood sugar and thus, treat the condition before it becomes too severe.

People with diabetes call for special attention and your hygienist and dentist are well-equipped to meet those needs. So keep them informed to lead a healthy and trouble-free life.


Author Bio:

Shashi Das has been associated with a renowned dental clinic since many years and now he pens down his extensive knowledge that he gathered working as a dental professional to help and guide people who want to know more about their oral health.




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