Diabetes and Oral Care

Diabetes may affect the whole body, including your mouth. Dental care is essential for people having diabetes because they face a higher than normal risk of oral health issues due to poorly controlled blood sugars. Control of blood sugar is inversely proportional to oral problems, the less controlled blood sugar results in more oral health issues. This is because uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the main defense against bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.

Risk Factors

People with diabetes face a higher risk of:

  • Dry mouth: Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease saliva flow, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
  • Gum inflammation: (Gingivitis and Periodontitis). Besides impairing white blood cells, another complication of diabetes is that it causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients to and waste products from body tissues, including the mouth. When this combination of events happens, the body’s ability to fight infections is reduced. Since periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, diabetics with uncontrolled disease may experience more frequent and more severe gum disease.
  • Poor healing of oral tissues: People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.
  • Thrush: People with diabetes who frequently take antibiotics to fight various infections are especially prone to developing a fungal infection of the mouth and tongue. The fungus thrives on the high levels of sugar in the saliva of people with uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Burning mouth / tongue. This condition is caused by the presence of thrush.

People with diabetes who smoke are at even a higher risk for the development of thrush and periodontal disease. Smoking also impair blood flow to the gums which may affect wound healing in this tissue area.

diabetesCare Tips

Person having diabetes should take extra care of oral health. Some points to know are:

  • Control your blood glucose and maintain it to the lowest possible level
  • Brush and floss every day.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
  • Tell your dentist if your dentures do not fit right, or if your gums are sore.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit.

Keep an eye on your mouth problems. Note if gums bleed when they brush and floss or any dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. If any sign seen, visit your dentist without any delay.

Oral Cancer

Cancer is a disease of the cells of the body. Human body is made up from millions of tiny cells. There are many different types of cell in the body, and there are many different types of cancer which arise from different types of cell. What all types of cancer have in common is that the cancer cells are abnormal and multiply vigorously. Oral cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in any part of the lips, tongue, cheeks and throat. Most oral cancers start in the lining of the lips or mouth where you have thin, flat cells called squamous cells.

Avoid smoking and Alcohol

Factors that increase risk for oral cancer include, but not limited to, smoking and heavy alcohol use. Risk is multiplied if a person uses both smoking and alcohol. Other risk factors are being male, using marijuana, or having human papillomavirus (HPV). Oral cancer occurs more than twice as often in men as in women.

Symptoms for oral cancer include sores or lumps on the lips or in your mouth. Talk with your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Leukoplakia or erythroplakia
  • Sore on your lip or in your mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal
  • Lump or thickening on your lips, gums, cheek, or in your mouth
  • White or red patch on your gums, your tongue, tonsils, or the lining of your mouth
  • Sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in your throat
  • Unexplained difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • Numbness or pain in your tongue or other areas of your lips or mouth
  • Swelling in your jaw that makes your teeth loose or your dentures fit poorly
  • Changes in your voice
  • Dry mouth (Xerostomia)

Your dentist or doctor may look closely at your lips, mouth, or throat to check for signs of oral cancer. Other tests may be needed if there are possible signs of cancer, such as a biopsy, an X-ray, or an MRI.

Oral cancer is usually treated with surgery and radiation therapy. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your cancer and your other health factors. If the cancer is advanced, other treatments may be used. You may get chemotherapy. Or chemotherapy and targeted therapy may be used together.

Causes of White Tongue

The tongue appears white or pale yellow and coated when the surface is colonised by bacteria or fungi, and dead cells become trapped between the small nodules on the tongue.A coated tongue is not a disease and is not usually a sign of anything serious. It’s usually only temporary.You can try gently brushing it with a tongue scraper and drinking plenty of water to help it improve.White tongue is the result of inflammation of the finger-like projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue. The appearance of a white coating is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the inflamed papillae.

Causes of inflammation include:

  • Dehydration
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Fever
  • Smoking

Conditions associated with white patches or other discolorations of your tongue include:

  • Certain medications
  • Geographic tongue (a condition that gives your tongue a map-like appearance)
  • Leukoplakia (may be precancerous)
  • Oral lichen planus (a chronic, autoimmune disorder)
  • Oral thrush (a yeast infection, also known as candidiasis)
  • Syphilis (a bacterial infection usually spread by sexual contact)


For further details take guidelines from your dentist. You may call Dr. Haddon Suttner for any type of dental problems on 02 9365 6197. For details about the services visit Dentist Bondi.