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Diabetes and Your Oral Health

If you suffer from diabetes, you know all too well the struggles that many diabetics face. This sometimes debilitating illness causes the need for major lifestyle changes, but thankfully can often be controlled with intervention such as medications, diet and, exercise.

Diabetes is a serious condition where the body struggles to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone. This can cause increased glucose levels and difficulty metabolizing carbohydrates. Diabetes affects an estimated 9.4 percent of Americans. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Both can be fatal if not kept under control. Diabetes can also cause other significant health problems, including issues with the feet and limbs, and surprisingly to some, with oral health.

Here are just a few ways diabetes can affect your oral health, and what you can do to help protect yourself against these dangerous side-effects.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease can affect anyone – not just diabetics. Unfortunately, it can be very common and more dangerous in diabetics. Inflammation can be a big contributor to gum disease and unfortunately is very common with diabetes. Though inflammation is caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque infiltrating the gums, that bacteria can enter the bloodstream, worsening diabetes.

Periodontitis can also cause tooth loss, gum tissue loss, and even loss of the jawbone.


Thrush is a fungal infection caused by candida yeast. This fungus can coat the tongue and mouth and appears as a thick white film. It can be very painful. Thrush is treatable and can be caused by everything from diabetes medications to dry mouth.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is generally caused by poor oral hygiene habits. When patients fail to brush away the plaque on their teeth, plaque-causing bacteria can eat away at the enamel of the teeth, causing decay. This can be especially hard to control when there is an excess of bacteria present due to periodontal disease, so brushing meticulously, especially with diabetes, is paramount to preventing tooth decay.

If you have diabetes, it’s very important to take excellent care of your oral hygiene to prevent these dental issues. Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time, and flossing at least once a day can help keep oral health in excellent shape between dental cleanings.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mingus, please contact the office at 541-382-6565.