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Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

If You Have Diabetes...

  • It's important for you to know how well your diabetes is controlled and to tell your dentist this information at each visit.
  • See your doctor before scheduling treatment for periodontal disease. Ask your doctor to talk to the dentist or periodontist about your overall medical condition before treatment begins.
  • You may need to change your meal schedule and the timing and dosage of your insulin if oral surgery is planned.
  • Postpone non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control. However, acute infections, such as abscesses, should be treated right away.
  • For the person with controlled diabetes, periodontal or oral surgery can usually be done in the dentist's office. Because of diabetes, healing may take more time. But with good medical and dental care, problems after surgery are no more likely than for someone without diabetes.
  • Once the periodontal infection is successfully treated, it is often easier to control blood sugar levels.

Are Other Oral Problems Linked to Diabetes?

Dental Cavities. Young people with IDDM have no more tooth decay than do nondiabetic children. In fact, youngsters with IDDM who are careful about their diet and take good care of their teeth often have fewer cavities than other children because they don't eat many foods that contain sugar.

Thrush. Thrush is an infection caused by a fungus that grows in the mouth. People with diabetes are at risk for thrush because the fungus thrives on high glucose levels in saliva. Smoking and wearing dentures (especially when they are worn constantly) can also lead to fungal infection. Medication is available to treat this infection. Good diabetic control, no smoking, and removing and cleaning dentures daily can help prevent thrush.

Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is often a symptom of undetected diabetes and can cause more than just an uncomfortable feeling in your mouth. Dry mouth can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.

The dryness means that you don't have enough saliva, the mouth's natural protective fluid. Saliva helps control the growth of germs that cause tooth decay and other oral infections. Saliva washes away sticky foods that help form plaque and strengthens teeth with minerals.

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