Why is my risk for oral infections greater with diabetes?


Diabetics have both oral and systemic problems, making them at greater risk for oral infections. With poorly controlled blood sugar, the saliva blood sugar levels are elevated; providing the bacteria with the glucose source they need to proliferate. In addition, the changes in the small blood vessels make it more difficult for the tissues to fight against the infection. Finally, the excessive thirst that diabetic experience is due to the changes in salivary flow. This lost of flow is another factor that favors the bacteria.

The risk for dental problems and gum disease with diabetes is increased because of the elevated blood glucose levels. Regular medical care and dental checkups are most important to keep your diabetes managed so you can avoid serious complications such as gingivitis (gum disease), periodontitis (severe gum disease) and tooth loss. Untreated diseases of the gum may be long-lasting, but a proper diagnosis, treatment and supervision by a dentist can allow you to manage this problem as you manage other areas of your life.

Along with the increased risk of periodontal disease (gum disease), other oral health problems are common with diabetes mellitus. They include mouth infections, oral thrush, dry mouth and slow healing. To prevent or self-manage periodontal disease, it's important to pay attention to daily oral care. This means brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing regularly each day. In addition, do a monthly oral health examination. Check your gums and teeth after brushing and flossing to see if you notice bleeding, irritation, inflammation or other signs that may be a problem. Check to see if any of your teeth are loose. Call your dentist immediately if you notice a problem. Also, see your dentist regularly for checkups and regular teeth cleaning.

Continue Learning about Diabetes and Oral Health

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.