Diabetes & Oral Health

National Diabetes Month

Each November, communities across the US team up to promote diabetes awareness during National Diabetes Month. About 10% of Americans are living with diabetes, and many know first hand how the condition affects their oral health.

Diabetes increases the risk of gum disease. Overall, the prevalence of moderate or severe gum disease in people with diabetes is about double that of those without. But why?

No matter how much you brush and floss, dental plaque can harden under your gums into tartar. Tartar that sticks around for a long time irritates your gums, causing them to swell and bleed. We call this gingivitis. Thankfully, regular dental cleanings can take care of it!

Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious infection. High blood sugar levels weaken white blood cells and cause blood vessels to thicken, limiting nutrient and waste exchange in mouth tissues. This leads to sluggish healing and makes you susceptible to infections. Since gum disease is a bacterial infection, people with uncontrolled diabetes commonly experience a more frequent and severe version.

Severe gum disease may eventually destroy the soft tissues and bones supporting your teeth, causing them to loosen or fall out. People with diabetes are reported to have lost more teeth – about double as many – than their peers without diabetes.

The good news is, we are here to help! The same careful at-home care we recommend for everyone can reduce the risk of gum disease, even for people living with diabetes.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Tell us if you have diabetes.
  • If your gums are red, swollen, or bleed easily, come in for a visit. These may be signs of gum disease. Other signs include dry mouth, loose teeth, or mouth pain.

Maintaining your oral health can also help you manage your diabetes! Gum disease can raise blood sugar like any other infection. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums. Treating and preventing periodontitis with regular dental cleanings can help keep blood sugar under control.



American Dental Association

Cleveland Clinic

Mayo Clinic

Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice


*The information contained in this post should not be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately licensed health care provider. The information provided here is for informational purposes only. Although we attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee is made to that effect. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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