Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are people with diabetes at higher risk for gum disease?
  2. In addition to gum disease, what other oral health problems can develop for people with diabetes?
  3. Will a poorly controlled blood glucose level have any affect on developing gum disease?
  4. Should I tell my dentist and hygienist that I have diabetes?
  5. How do I know if I have serious gum disease?
  6. What's the first stage of gum disease?
  7. What are the signs of gingivitis and/or serious gum disease?
  8. What percentage of adults get gingivitis and gum disease during their lives?
  9. At what age does gum disease generally start?
  10. How can I help prevent dental problems associated with diabetes?

Are people with diabetes at higher risk for gum disease?

Yes. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease and other dental problems. Diabetes may weaken your mouth and body's germ-fighting powers and high blood glucose levels can make gum disease worse. At the same time, gum disease may make blood glucose levels harder to control.

In addition to gum disease, what other oral health problems can develop for people with diabetes?

While gum disease is the most common problem, having diabetes also makes you prone to other mouth problems such as oral infections, thrush, poor healing and dry mouth. Remember, good dental care can result in a healthy mouth and a smile that will last a lifetime.

Will a poorly controlled blood glucose level have any affect on developing gum disease?

Yes. High blood glucose levels make gum disease get worse. Like all infections, gum disease can be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and make diabetes harder to control.

Should I tell my dentist and hygienist that I have diabetes?

Yes. People with diabetes have special needs. Keep your dentist and dental hygienist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication(s) you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control.

How do I know if I have serious gum disease?

Often there are no signs of serious gum disease. You may not know you have it until you have some serious damage. Regular dental visits are your best weapon.

What's the first stage of gum disease?

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis and if ignored, can develop into the more severe form of gum disease, known as periodontitis. When this happens, you may need gum surgery to save your teeth.

What are the signs of gingivitis and/or serious gum disease?

Some of the possible signs of gingivitis and/or serious gum disease include:

  • Bleeding and red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth.
  • Pus between the teeth and gums (when you press on the gums)
  • Bad breath
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from each other
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite
  • Changes in the fit of partial dentures or bridges

If you have any of the above, see your dentist.

What percentage of adults get gingivitis and gum disease during their lives?

About 80% of adults will get gum disease at some point. It's a lot more common than you think!

At what age does gum disease generally start?

Gum disease can start at any age. Children and teenagers who have diabetes are at greater risk for gum disease than those who don't have diabetes.

How can I help prevent dental problems associated with diabetes?

First and foremost, control your blood glucose level. Then take good care of your teeth and gums, along with regular dental check-ups every six months.

Additional Oral Care Tips for Those with Diabetes

  • Have a dental checkup every six months, or as often as indicated by a professional.
  • Tell your dentist or hygienest that you have diabetes and any other medical condition.
  • Brush for two minutes a day with a toothpaste with an antigingival/antibacterial ingredient to help prevent gingivitis and one that accepted by the American Dental Association.
  • Contact your dentist or hygienist if you experience any of these signs of gum disease:
    • Gums that bleed or are red, puffy or swollen, or sore
    • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
    • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
    • Pus that appears between your teeth and your gums
    • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Last Reviewed: September 18, 2012
  • Last Edited: April 17, 2014

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Diabetes Forecast