Diabetes and Your Oral Health

About 8.3 percent of the U.S. population have been diagnosed and are living with diabetes. There are two types of diabetes; Type 1, and Type 2. With type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t produce insulin, a hormone that is needed in order to convert sugars, starches, and other food to energy. With type 2, your body does produce insulin, but not enough of it. Diabetes is a disease that can affect your entire body, even your mouth. People with diabetes have a higher risk of oral health problems due to poorly controlled blood sugars. If diabetes goes uncontrolled, it weakens the white blood cells, which defend against bacterial infections that may arise orally. People with diabetes have a harder time fighting disease and infection due to weakened white blood cells.

Oral Complications as a Result of Diabetes

People with diabetes, whether it be type 1 or type 2, have a higher risk of developing dental health issues. Problems that could arise include:

  • Dry mouth– especially when you are experiencing a high blood sugar episode, you may experience dry mouth. If left untreated, this can lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and even tooth decay.
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis and periodontitis)- Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection which causes inflammation and affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. When it first arises, it is known as gingivitis. Your gums become red and swollen, a condition known as inflammation. Because this is a bacterial infection, uncontrolled diabetes have a higher risk of more frequent gum disease and can even be more severe.
  • Thrush– People with diabetes have a harder time dealing with infections, and have to constantly take antibiotics to help deal with them. These people are especially prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue (Thrush). High BG (blood glucose) levels help to house the bacteria that strive on the sugars in the saliva.
  • Poor healing of oral tissues– healing after oral surgery, or any surgery, can be quite the process for diabetics. It takes longer for diabetics to heal, which opens up a longer time-frame and increases the risk for infections to arise.

Treatment Options

As with many oral complications, treatment depends on what is causing the issue. For diabetics, regulation of your blood sugar is key. For most people, good blood sugar levels range from 80 to 160 on an average day. People with poor blood sugar (glucose) levels can get gum disease more than and worse than that of someone with regularly controlled BG levels.  Regular oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, and good BG levels are your best bet when dealing with oral complications from diabetes.


As a native Texan, Dr. Gregory Wright opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.