How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

How Does Diabetes Affect Oral Health?

Diabetes can significantly impact oral health, especially for people with diabetes who don’t take care to manage their symptoms. In this article from Group Enroll, we’ll discuss the risks of diabetes and how to cope with them to protect your mental health. 

If you are a small business owner or administrator, it is essential to provide resources to help your employees with diabetes and other conditions stay healthy.

Diabetes in Canada Today

Diabetes increases the risk of many disorders, including problems with the cardiovascular system, infections, and cognitive impairment. According to The Conference Board of Canada, one in 16 Canadians has diabetes. That is about two million Canadians. 

Comprehensive health and dental coverage are vital tools in the fight against tooth loss, infection, and other complications from diabetes. Although the Canadian government covers some dental health expenses, Canadians need supplemental dental coverage through private insurers. You can find out more about health and dental insurance on the Insurdinary website.

The Effect of Diabetes on the Body

Diabetes is the loss of one’s ability to regulate the level of glucose in the blood. The disease affects every part of the body, including the mouth. High blood sugar causes damage to the blood vessels, leads to organ damage, and makes it harder for the body to generate an appropriate immune response to infection.

Diabetes and the Mouth

Diabetes affects the mouth in various ways. The inability to regulate blood sugar levels affects the vascular system in the gums and the glucose content in the saliva. 

High blood sugar interferes with blood circulation in the gums, making it harder for them to heal.  Understanding, actioning and normalizing your blood sugar levels is critical when managing the disease. Diabetes indirectly causes oral health problems because it allows diseases to progress more rapidly and makes it harder for the mouth to maintain its health naturally. 

If you’re reading this because you’re wondering how diabetes affects oral health, read on to learn more about the potentially severe complications of diabetes.

Dry Mouth

Diabetes can cause renal problems because the kidneys must work overtime filtering excess sugar from the blood. Kidney damage interferes with the salivary glands and causes dry mouth.


Diabetes could affect the blood vessels, making it more difficult for blood to reach infected areas. Consequently, patients with diabetes should be on guard against sores that could become infected and spread the infection further through the oral cavity. Your dentist should monitor and treat sores before they have a chance to trigger periodontal disease and sepsis.

Bacterial Growth

High sugar levels in the saliva due to uncontrolled diabetes allow bacteria to grow in the mouth. Bacteria cause bad breath, weakened tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity, and tooth decay. If you do not confront this problem, you could lose infected teeth.

Fungal Infections

Thrush is a form of fungal infection of the mouth that can occur in people with diabetes. Thrush gives the tongue a whitish colour and causes pain, especially if the mouth is dry.

Gum Inflammation (Gingivitis)

The increase in bacteria caused by sugar in the saliva, coupled with dried-out gums, can give rise to gum inflammation. The growth of gum bacteria will increase even faster if the diabetic patient is already having trouble brushing their teeth due to mouth pain. 

When bacteria builds up on teeth and around the gum line, they secrete waste products that form as plaque. Gum inflammation leads to periodontal disease that could progress deeper below the gumline.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection that occurs around the tooth beneath the gum line. As plaque and gum inflammation progress, the gums can pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets that can collect pieces of food and develop infections that attack the teeth. Infections can produce abscesses that need surgery to remove or burrow into the roots of the teeth, requiring a root canal.

Surgical Complications

Any dental conditions that require surgery expose a patient with diabetes to the risk of surgical complications. Surgical incisions will take longer to heal and might be more susceptible to infections. This elevated risk makes it doubly important that anyone with diabetes does everything possible to treat minor oral health problems before they become serious.

Oral Health and Living with Diabetes

Oral health is an extension of the overall health of the body. One of the most crucial things that patients with diabetes can do is monitor their blood sugar levels. If their diet and physical activity levels contribute to their diabetes, losing weight, eating well and exercising more can help them keep both their mouth and body healthy. As well, keeping up to date with the Canadian Diabetes Guidelines helps to stay educated.

People with diabetes should let their dentist know that their doctor is treating them for diabetes and let their doctor know before they have any dental procedures. 

In addition to their general health care regimen, people with diabetes can take many practical steps to improve their oral health, such as:

  • Avoiding foods that are higher in sugars
  • Using a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid irritating the gums
  • Brushing teeth frequently
  • Flossing regularly to prevent plaque buildup
  • Taking steps to promote good kidney health and avoid dry mouth
  • Having regular dental checkups, X-rays, and screenings
  • Following the instructions of your dentist and primary care physician carefully

Employees with diabetes might feel overwhelmed by new lifestyle changes and responsibilities. However, the good tooth and gum care habits that they develop under the guidance of their dentist will go a long way in keeping them healthy for many years.

The Importance of Dental Coverage in Maintaining Good Oral Health

To anyone with diabetes, it can be overwhelming to monitor blood sugar and face the health challenges that go along with the disease. Maintaining good oral health can seem like another burden, especially since dental checkups, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures can add up. Dental insurance provides financial security and makes screening easier for your employees to afford.

Remember that maintaining overall health is a crucial part of dental health because the mouth depends on the rest of the body to stay healthy. Dental health care should be part of a comprehensive treatment plan for diabetes. A well-organized health insurance plan is vital for your employees to successfully manage and live with diabetes.

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Find Group Dental Coverage You Can Trust and Afford with Group Enroll

Group Enroll is an insurance broker that helps businesses across Canada set up group dental, health, and disability insurance plans for employees. We give you many options and provide the support you and your employees need so that patients with diabetes and many other Canadians find coverage from trusted insurance providers at affordable rates.

How does diabetes affect oral health? The answer depends on doctors, dentists and patients working together. Group Enroll helps small businesses find custom dental coverage solutions that give them financial stability and peace of mind. We also help small businesses set up health savings accounts, life insurance, and retirement benefits.

Start by filling out the quote form on our website. After a brief phone call to discuss your needs, we’ll provide quotes from our trusted top dental health insurance providers. Reach us by email at [email protected]. Our office is located at 10 Great Gulf Drive, Unit 5, Vaughan, ON, L4K 0K7.

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