How Diabetes Impacts Dental Health

Periodontal disease is a leading concern in this country and throughout the world. Another and arguably bigger worry is the growing number of cases of diabetes. There are nearly thirty million Americans being treated for diabetes. Often, there is a great deal of overlap, though, with people suffering with both conditions. This can be explained because of the impact that diabetes has on dental health. There are a number of ways that the disease can impact the teeth, gums, and remainder of the mouth.

Infection Susceptibility

High blood sugar levels can impact the ability of the immune system to fight off bacteria, which means an increased risk of infection, including infections in the mouth.

Dry Mouth

Diabetes is a primary cause of chronic dry mouth, but it can also be made worse if dry mouth is not properly treated. A lack of saliva means a lack of defense against bacteria, which can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and ultimately full-fledged periodontal disease. As the body attempts to fight the infection, blood sugar levels are likely to rise. It’s a vicious circle.


High blood sugar levels cause wide spread inflammation. This can also occur in the mouth, acerbating the symptoms of gingivitis and gum disease. This can also make it more uncomfortable to eat and, of course, to properly brush the teeth and gums.

Delayed Healing

The high glucose levels in the blood, over time, can cause damage to the nerves, which then impacts circulation. This can make it difficult for blood to reach the wounded area. Blood, of course, is necessary for healing. When the wounds are in the mouth, the problem can quickly escalate. The food particles left after eating feed bacteria. The warm, moist environment is also favorable and ultimately this can lead to rapid increase in bacteria and likelihood of infection of the wound. The bacteria have a direct route, via the sore, to the blood supply, which can cause or worsen periodontal disease.

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