- People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing dental problems like gum disease and infections. Having gum disease can also worsen complications from diabetes
- Your dentist can look for signs if you’re at risk for diabetes, or that your existing diabetes may not be well-controlled.
- Treating either gum disease or diabetes can lead to improvements in the other.
Research shows that diabetes and oral health can affect each other. This means if you have diabetes, you’re at greater risk for developing dental problems like gum disease and infections. On the other hand, having gum disease can also worsen complications from diabetes by increasing blood sugar levels.
The good news is that treating either gum disease or diabetes can lead to improvements in the other!
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin – a hormone needed to absorb sugar. As a result, the body cannot use sugars from food, which are the basic fuel for cells. Untreated diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and infections, and other serious complications.
Learn more about the types and risk factors of diabetes from the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Some of the symptoms of diabetes are:
- unusual thirst
- frequent urination
- extreme fatigue
- blurred vision
- frequent or recurring infections
- cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Dental Problems Associated with Diabetes
Through an oral examination, your dentist will look for certain oral-health conditions that could signal a need for you to be tested for diabetes. The most common dental problems found in people with diabetes include:
- gum disease
- tooth decay
- dry mouth
- fungal infections
- lesions in the mouth
- loss of taste
- infection and delayed healing
How Your Dentist Can Help
Because your dentist is an expert in oral health, they will know what to look for during your checkups. If they find signs that you’re at risk for diabetes, or that your existing diabetes is not well-controlled, they’ll refer you to your family doctor for follow-up treatment or testing.
At your next visit, be sure to tell your dentist:
- If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and if the diabetes is under control.
- If you take insulin and when your last usual dose of insulin was taken.
- If there has been any other change in your medical history.
- The names of all the herbal medicines, prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking.
Early detection is important!