Roughly 21 million Americans have diabetes, and many of these people are not familiar with the ways diabetes can affect their oral health.  According to recent research, diabetes is not only linked with heart disease, kidney disease, and strokes; there is also a strong association between diabetes and gum (periodontal) disease.

There is a two-way relationship between gum disease and diabetes: people with diabetes are more likely to encounter serious gum disease, and some research shows that serious gum disease can also affect the way a body handles glucose and may contribute to the development or progression of diabetes.  Gingivitis and  periodontists are a higher risk for people with diabetes, because diabetics are more susceptible to bacterial infections and their bodies are less able to fight the bacteria that causes gum disease and tooth decay.

If you have diabetes and  your blood glucose levels are not under control, you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease that can lead to tooth loss.  Likewise, gum infections (like all infections) can cause blood sugar to rise and make your diabetes more difficult to regulate.  Thus, a fungal infection of the mouth, is also associated with diabetes, as is dry-mouth, a dental condition that can cause ulcers, sores, infections, and cavities.

For a diabetic to maintain good oral health, it is vitally important that he or she controls blood glucose levels.  Twice yearly visits to the dentist are also very important, as is a good oral hygiene routine.  Dentures must be removed and cleaned daily, and diabetics should avoid smoking, which can also heighten the risk of oral infections and gum diseases.

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If you have diabetes, make sure to let your dentist and hygienist know, as you may have special dental needs.  Keep your oral health team aware of any changes in your condition, and also let them know about any medications you are taking.  If your blood sugar is not well controlled, postpone any non-emergency dental procedures until your levels are better regulated.