Diabetes & Dental Health

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It is estimated that 12 to 14 million people, or one-third of the population in the United States, have diabetes, but only one-half of these individuals are diagnosed.

Studies have shown that diabetics are more susceptible to the development of oral infections and periodontal disease than those who do not have diabetes. Oral infections tend to be more severe in diabetic than non-diabetic patients, and diabetics who do not have good control over their blood sugar levels tend to have more oral health problems. These infections occur more often after puberty and in aging patients.

Diabetics may experience diminished salivary flow and a burning sensation in the mouth or tongue. Dry mouth (xerostomia) also may develop, causing an increased incidence of decay. Gum recession has been found to occur more frequently and more extensively in poorly controlled diabetic patients because plaque responds differently, creating more harmful proteins in the gums. To prevent problems with bacteria in the mouth, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses, and more frequent cleanings.

Make sure to take extra good care of your mouth and have dental infections treated immediately. Diabetics who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance of avoiding gum disease and infection.

Diet and exercise may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve their quality of life and their oral health. Diabetic patients should be sure both their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status. To keep teeth and gums strong, diabetic patients should be aware of their blood sugar levels in addition to having their triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. These may have a direct correlation on your chances of developing periodontal disease.

If your blood sugar is not under control, talk with both your dentist and physician before receiving elective dental care. Dental procedures should be as short and stress free as possible. Make morning appointments because blood sugar levels tend to be under better control at this time of day.

If you have a scheduled dental appointment, eat and take your medications as directed. See your dentist on a regular basis, keep him or her informed of your health status, and keep your mouth in good health.

If you have any questions about diabetes and how it impacts your dental health,
Dr. Mahlin would be happy to discuss this with you.


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