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