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Diabetes: Taking Care of Your Teeth and Gums

Overview

When you have diabetes, managing blood sugar levels and taking good care of your teeth and gums are both important. When blood sugar levels are high, there's a greater risk for:

  • Gum (periodontal) disease.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Fungal infections in the mouth, like thrush.
  • Dry mouth, or xerostomia (say "zee-ruh-STO-mee-uh"). The mouth needs saliva to neutralize the acids in your mouth. These acids can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

Keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range can help prevent problems with the teeth and gums. If you have any problems with your teeth or gums, see your dentist.

How to take care of your teeth and gums

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Floss daily. Make sure to press the floss against your teeth and not your gums.
  • Check each day for areas where your gums might be red or painful. Be sure to let your dentist know of any sores in your mouth.
  • See your dentist regularly for professional cleaning of your teeth and to look for gum problems. Many dentists recommend getting checkups twice a year. Remind your dentist that you have diabetes before any work is done.
  • Don't smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Tobacco use with diabetes can lead to a greater risk of severe gum disease. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Credits

Current as of: April 13, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology

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