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Dental Problems and Diabetes

People with poorly controlled diabetes are more susceptible to dental problems. They are more likely to have infections of their gums and the bones that hold the teeth in place, because diabetes can reduce the blood supply to the gums. In addition, high blood sugar may cause dry mouth and make gum disease worse. The decrease in saliva can cause an increase in tooth-decaying bacteria and plaque buildup.

When a person with diabetes has good blood sugar control, there's no increased risk of dental problems.

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Diabetes Care: Managing Your Time When You Have Diabetes

Sometimes, living with diabetes can seem like a full-time job -- trying to keep up with everything you need to do for proper diabetes care. "Diabetes is a very time-consuming disease to manage well," says Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, and former president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. "The medication, the food, the physical activity -- you add life in general to that whole picture and it ends up being quite challenging."

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What Are the Symptoms of Dental Problems in Diabetes?

If you have diabetes, symptoms of dental problems include bleeding and sore gums, frequent infections, and bad breath.

How Can I Prevent These Dental Problems?

To prevent dental problems if you have diabetes, taking good care of your gums and teeth is very important. Here are some tips for preventing dental problems:

  • Maintain good blood sugar control.
  • Tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Have a dental checkup every six months.
  • If you smoke, quit.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on February 12, 2015
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