The main link between oral health issues and diabetes is high blood sugar. Having too much sugar in your blood can lead to too much sugar in your saliva, which causes an increase in harmful bacteria affecting the gums and teeth. People with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop periodontal disease compared to those without diabetes, because high blood sugar levels can damage the gums’ blood vessels and make them more likely to become infected.
It can even work the other way around, as gum disease can actually make it difficult for the body to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Essentially, either issue intensifies and feeds off of the other.
According to the Ontario Dental Association, here are some additional oral health risk factors for people with diabetes in addition to gum disease:
- fungal infection
- tooth decay
- taste impairment
- dry mouth
- delayed healing