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Does diabetes affect my teeth and gums?

Yes. There are strong links between diabetes and these dental problems:

  • loss of teeth through gum disease
  • slow healing after extractions or oral surgery
  • mouth infections such as thrush and dry mouth

People with diabetes, especially if their blood sugar is uncontrolled, are much more likely to have red, swollen and bleeding gums. The plaque bacteria that cause gum disease can painlessly eat away the bone that holds your teeth; if this continues without treatment, it can result in losing your teeth.

Without strong, solid teeth and healthy gums it may be harder to eat healthy foods, making the diabetes even harder to control. The cycle of increasing gum disease and infection, followed by worsening diabetes, can result in the loss of most or all of your teeth.

If you have diabetes, you should keep a look-out for these warning signs:

  1. bad breath
  2. teeth that feel loose or are moving in position
  3. gums that bleed easily
  4. gums that are red, swollen or sore

Then:

  • Make sure your blood sugar level is controlled.
  • Quit smoking, as it makes any gum problems much worse.
  • Brush and floss/tooth-pick/interdentally brush your teeth twice a day, very thoroughly.
  • Leave your dentures out overnight and clean them daily.
  • Visit your dentist twice a year, especially to have your gums checked.