Dentists Can Help Diagnose Diabetes

Because the symptoms of diabetes may be subtle, many people with this disease aren’t aware they have it. About a third of people with diabetes have not been tested or diagnosed with the disease.

Dentists could play an important role in helping correct this, according to an article in the Journal of Periodontal Research. Because of high glucose levels, people with diabetes often have problems with their teeth and gums: Increased glucose helps bacteria thrive.

Asking patients with serious periodontal (gum) disease about their family and personal medical history could help dentists steer individuals likely to have diabetes to their regular doctor for help.

In addition to gum disease, diabetes also makes people more susceptible to:

  • Sore or loose teeth

  • Fungal mouth infections

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Dry mouth

  • Cavities

People with diabetes who have good control of their blood sugar are less apt to develop these problems.

“Diabetes in the Dental Office: Using NHANES III to Estimate the Probability of Undiagnosed Disease.” L.N. Borrell et al. Journal of Periodontal Research. December 2007, vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 559–65. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17956470. Accessed 2013.

“Diabetes.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/diabetes.aspx. Accessed 2013.

“Diabetes and Oral Health Problems.” American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral.html. Accessed 2013.

“Diabetes and Periodontal Disease.” American Academy of Periodontology. http://www.perio.org/consumer/diabetes.htm. Accessed 2013.

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