The link between oral health and diabetes

The link between oral health and diabetes

Ever thought about the link between diabetes and oral health? There are many ways that you can reduce your risk of getting diabetes, or help control diabetes if you already have it. Many of these come down to lifestyle choices such as exercise, healthy eating, smoking cessation etc. As this blog is a dental blog our dental team in Emsworth will concentrate on things you can do from an 'oral' point of view.

As you will have seen in previous blogs from enVisage dental in Emsworth, the risk factor that occurs in the mouth is inflammation. So the best thing you can do to help yourself from oral point of view is to ensure there is no inflammation in the mouth.

Bleeding and gum disease

Most people have low-grade infections in their mouths all the time. You may have noticed blood on a toothbrush, floss, or when spitting out after cleaning. If your dentist carries out a gum assessment, he or she will detect if there is any bleeding. This bleeding only occurs when there is inflammation. Gum inflammation is one of the most important causes of inflammation can impact on diabetes.

Smoking can mask this bleeding as it decreases the blood flow to the gums and supporting bone. That means there can be inflammation present that does not show up, which is even worse as it is more likely to be missed. So by having an effective daily oral hygiene regime which includes cleaning of the gums and teeth with a good toothbrush including cleaning in-between the teeth will have a significant positive impact on gum inflammation. As smoking also has a detrimental effect, clearly it is of benefit to reduce or ideally stop smoking completely.


Any crack in a tooth which goes beyond the gum will lead to localised gum inflammation. A crack of 0.1mm will be like a twenty-lane superhighway for bacteria, often leaving you with no hope of being able to clean it out. It's more likely that a dentist will pick up these cracks, although you may see them on some teeth. It is not always necessary to treat them if they are not causing gum inflammation. If a relevant crack is identified the best solution is to have it treated to ensure inflammation is not present.


Decay is essentially a collection of bacteria which actively causes inflammation. So, any decay should be eliminated as soon as possible. Prevention is by far the best plan. By keeping to a minimum the number of intakes of food or drink, you are less likely to develop decay. Regular cleaning of the teeth to remove bacteria in food debris along with use of fluoride in toothpaste or mouthwashes will help. There are other specific decay prevention programs which offer a 'belt and braces' approach. This will be one of the blog topics that we have coming up in a few months time. If there is decay present in a tooth and the dentist has recommended having the tooth treated them this would be a prudent course of action.

Voids or overhanging fillings/crowns

A filling or crown that has not been made or fitted very well or has worn away over time will lead to an area where bacteria can exist and thrive. This, in turn will lead to inflammation. Having these areas reshaped or the offending restoration replaced to ensure ease of access for thorough cleaning is the best solution.

Dry mouth

Experiencing a dry mouth can be unpleasant. Saliva carries immune components which help the body destroy bacteria. So having less saliva decreases the effectiveness of this process and increases the risk of decay. Regular sips of water and the use of sugar-free chewing gum will help amplify the saliva that you do have. In extreme cases there are prescription medications which can be used however they do have side effects and would only be recommended in certain circumstances.

Fungal infections

Our mouths are teeming with billions of little bugs. They are a combination of bacteria and fungi. Normally these live in harmony, and our immune system keeps a check on them, so no one species can take over. Every so often something can interrupt this balance and some take over. It tends to be the fungi, and this can lead to thrush or other fungal infections. When this happens, it leads to inflammation. Treatment to eradicate the fungal infection is indicated. If you have a dental chair this is one of the potential triggers and ensuring it is left out at night and keeping the denture clean will help reduce the risk of fungal infections.

For more information contact our Emsworth dentists on or call us on 01243 375588.