Frequently Asked Questions

17. How can diabetes affect my teeth and gums?

People with diabetes can have tooth and gum problems more often if their blood glucose stays high. Glucose is present in your saliva—the fluid in your mouth that makes it wet. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow. These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath.

The most common mouth problems from diabetes are

  • gingivitis (unhealthy or inflamed gums)
  • periodontitis (an infection of the gums)
  • thrush or candidiasis
  • dry mouth
  • oral burning (a burning sensation inside the mouth).