"People with diabetes who keep their blood glucose levels in a target range have no more dental problems than the rest of the population," says Dr. Carol Alexopoulos, a dentist who practices in Toronto, Ontario.

"However, those with poorly managed blood glucose levels have a decrease in saliva and an increase in salivary sugar, which leads to dry mouth, ulcers, fungal infections, increased tooth decay, loss of teeth, and difficulty wearing dentures,” explains Dr. Alexopoulos.

Insufficient moisture can cause both dry mouth and a burning sensation on your tongue. This lack of moisture can eventually lead to an irritation of the entire lining of the mouth, since normal volumes of saliva actually protect your teeth from cavities and make chewing and speech comfortable. If you wear dentures and develop a feeling of dry mouth, you may find them irritating and more difficult to wear.

In addition, poorly managed blood glucose (sugar) levels can lead to:

  • Severe toothaches due to impaired circulation to your teeth. If you cannot eat solid food because chewing is difficult, try alternatives such as milk, soup, cereals, pudding, or fruit juices to replace your carbohydrate allowance.
  • More severe gum disease and at an earlier age.
  • Thickening of the small blood vessels of the gingiva (gums) which can lead to infection of the gum and bone tissues.
  • Periodontal disease that, in turn, can make it hard to manage blood sugar levels. Because periodontal disease is an infection, bacteria produce toxins that affect the carbohydrate metabolism in individual cells. It is also thought that the host response to periodontal bacteria can increase insulin resistance and, therefore, blood sugar levels.

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