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The Connection Between Diabetes & Dental Health

Posted on November 11, 2014 | in Oral Systemic Dentistry | by

Are Diabetes & Dental Health Connected?

“Both gum disease and diabetes are chronic diseases, and they both make each other worse.”

November is American Diabetes Month

Diabetes is a chronic disease which affects our body’s ability to process sugar. The resulting high blood sugar can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of our bodies.

In addition, diabetes can lower our resistance to infection and slow the healing process.

According to the American Diabetes Association, here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes:

– Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
– Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
– The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.



Diabetes & Dental Health Connections

How Are Diabetes & Dental Health Related?

According to the ADA’s consumer website, MouthHealthy.org, if you have diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing some oral health problems.

The most common oral health problems associated with diabetes are:

Gum disease. Recent research suggests that the connection between gum disease and diabetes goes both ways. On the one hand, because of lowered resistance and a longer healing process, gum disease appears to be more frequent and more severe among those with diabetes. Conversely, it appears that treating gum disease in people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar control.

Fungal infections. Since diabetes compromises your immune system, you may be prone to developing fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing. If you develop a fungal infection, see your dentist.

Infection and delayed healing. If you are having extensive oral surgery, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to minimize the risk of infection. To help the healing process, keep your blood glucose levels under control before, during and after surgery.



Checkout & share this helpful diabetes & dental health infographic to learn more:



Should Dentists Screen for Diabetes?

Problem: Like gum disease, a lot of us walk around without even knowing we’re affected by diabetes.

About 8.1 million people according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are currently walking around with diabetes but are undiagnosed – this is up over 1 million since 2011.

Solution: Develop additional methods to test and identify diabetes risk factors at the dental office.

In the study titled, Identification of Unrecognized Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes in a Dental Setting, published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Dental Research, researchers at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine found that dental visits present a great opportunity [for our dentists] to identify people with diabetes or pre-diabetes who are unaware of their condition.

Our findings provide a simple approach that can be easily used in all dental-care settings.” – lead author and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Associate Professor, Dr. Evanthia Lalla.

Sounds like a pretty good solution…what do you think about dentists testing for diabetes risk factors?

Is Dental Health Connected to Diabetes?
 

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+Chris Barnard is Managing Editor of DentalPatientNews.com, a patient-centric Social Dental Network blog dedicated to enabling the digital dental health conversation - and the eradication of the cavity creeps.
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