man brushing his teeth to take care of his oral health

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Maintaining good oral health is crucial for everyone, but it holds even greater significance if you live with diabetes — you’re not alone in this experience. Over 3 million Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, with 6.1% having prediabetes. It’s important to understand how diabetes can impact your oral health, from a higher risk of gum disease to contributing to tooth decay and infections. In this article, we’ll explore this connection to oral health, discuss common complications, and provide some essential tips to help you prevent these issues.

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health: The Connection 

testing blood sugar level

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that comes from the body’s inability to produce or effectively use insulin. Insulin regulates blood sugar, and when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream, it can cause damage to various organs and systems throughout the body, including the mouth.

The oral cavity has a diverse ecosystem of bacteria, and maintaining a delicate balance is crucial for optimal health. However, diabetes can disrupt this equilibrium, leading to various complications. The first step in protecting your oral health is learning about the signs and symptoms of untreated diabetes:

Here are some common oral health complications experienced by those living with diabetes:


Dry Mouth

Saliva helps maintain oral health by neutralizing acids, cleaning away food particles, and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. However, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to decreased saliva production, resulting in dry 

mouth. Without adequate saliva, your mouth becomes more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections.

Tooth Decay

While tooth decay can affect anyone, individuals with diabetes are particularly at risk. Tooth decay occurs when the protective layer of tooth enamel demineralizes from acids produced by oral bacteria. These bacteria feed on sugars and carbohydrates present in the mouth, releasing acids as byproducts that erode the enamel.

For people with diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels create an environment conducive to bacteria growth and acid production, increasing the risk of cavities. One of the main contributors to tooth decay in these individuals is dry mouth — as discussed earlier, lack of saliva leads to more bacteria.

Periodontal Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, begins with the accumulation of dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If not adequately removed through proper oral hygiene practices, plaque can harden into tartar and contribute to the development of gum inflammation.

The elevated blood sugar levels in those with diabetes promote the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply, increasing the risk of gum disease. Diabetes can impact the progression of periodontal disease in various ways:


Thrush is a fungal infection that commonly affects the mouth, particularly the tongue and inner cheeks. While this condition can occur in anyone, it is more prevalent and can have a greater impact on those with diabetes. High blood sugar levels ultimately aid in the overgrowth of Candida albicans, a type of yeast normally found in the oral cavity in small amounts.


Common Myths About Oral Health and Diabetes

man showing his swollen gums


How Do I Prevent Oral Health Problems with Diabetes?

Remember, the best first step is prevention and early detection of issues. By implementing the above tips, you can protect your smile and overall health. If you have any concerns or need a check-up, visit us at Costello Family Dentistry. We’re here to support you on your oral health journey.

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani

Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani has helped to restore the smiles and self-confidence of countless clients since opening Yazdani Family Dentistry in 2001. As CEO and Director, he has amassed thousands of hours of comprehensive training and real-world experience in his decades-long tenure. Dr. Yazdani is deeply passionate about his work, family, and making the most of life itself.

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