A kid is brushing his teeth in front of the mirror

How Does Type 1 Diabetes Affect Your Teeth?

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Did you know, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one in ten Americans has some form of diabetes? Not as many know about the related dental issues, but you’re making a significant step to educate yourself. We’re here to lay out how exactly type 1 diabetes connects to your oral health.

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes can affect people of any body type, weight, and race. This condition occurs when your pancreas doesn’t create enough of a hormone called insulin. Without insulin, sugar can’t get into your cells and builds up in the bloodstream. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes must check their insulin regularly and inject the appropriate amount to regulate their blood sugar.

Both genetics and environmental factors play a role in developing type 1 diabetes.

Remember that type 1 diabetes is a manageable condition with proper exercise, diet, medications, and care.

Symptoms Exhibited by Children With Diabetes

Early detection is an essential factor in avoiding adverse outcomes of diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children or infants but can begin at any age.

The most common type 1 diabetes symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme levels of thirst or hunger
  • Weight loss despite normal diet
  • Injuries are slow to heal
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue

If your child starts wetting the bed again after being potty trained, this could indicate type 1 diabetes.

Oral Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

What precisely is the relationship between type 1 diabetes and teeth problems? According to the American Dental Association, periodontal disease is the most common disease affecting those with diabetes. Poor control of blood sugar can cause a variety of dental side-effects if not adequately managed.

Type 1 diabetes can cause:

  • Dry mouth caused by a low level of saliva
  • Higher risk of cavities
  • Gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis, if left untreated
  • Potential problems tasting certain foods
  • Higher risk of infections in the mouth like thrush
  • Slower healing of wounds
  • Young children may have teeth erupt earlier than their peers

It’s vital to recognize and treat dental issues early, so you’re doing a great job informing yourself.

How to Prevent Oral Problems From Type 1 Diabetes

You can work to create a more healthy link between type 1 diabetes and your dental health. Better control of your blood sugar will help set you up for success, according to the Mayo Clinic. Diabetes lowers your ability to fight bacteria, so removing plaque is especially important to avoid cavities and gum disease.

Poor control of blood sugar increases your risk of dental problems. The good news? Treating gum disease can help you control your blood sugar.

Prevention tips:

  • Control your blood sugar by closely following the recommendations of your doctor
  • Brush twice daily for two minutes and floss or use other interdental cleaners once daily
  • Chew sugar-free gum to promote saliva production
  • Avoid smoking and tobacco products
  • Consume a healthy diet
  • Visit your dental professional regularly to stay ahead of potential problems

Diabetes and your dental health are directly connected. Managing your type 1 diabetes has likely already helped you understand the importance of healthy habits, so you’re in a great position to prevent issues. Careful attention to your blood sugar and dental routine management will pave the way to a beautiful smile.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

paper airplane

Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

Mobile Top Image
Was this article helpful?

Thank you for submitting your feedback!

If you’d like a response, Contact Us.

Mobile Bottom Image