CHICAGO (November 1, 2010) – According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects nearly 24 million people in the United States. In observance of National Diabetes Month, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) encourages those with diabetes to pay extra attention to their oral health. Studies have shown that those with diabetes are more susceptible to the development of oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease than those who do not have diabetes. In addition, oral infections tend to be more severe in people with diabetes than in those who do not have the condition.
“We urge individuals with diabetes to take care of their mouths and have dental infections treated immediately,” says AGD spokesperson E. Mac Edington, DDS, MAGD, ABGD. “People who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance at avoiding gum disease.”
Because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, the gums are at risk for gingivitis, an inflammation usually caused by the presence of bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky film that accumulates on teeth both above and below the gum line.
“Without regular dental checkups, gum disease may result if gingivitis is left untreated. Gingivitis also can cause inflammation and destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth,” says Dr. Edington. To prevent problems with bacterial infections in the mouth, a dentist may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouthrinses, and more frequent cleanings to a patient with diabetes.
The established connection between oral health and systemic health suggests that diet and exercise may be the most important changes that people with diabetes can make to improve their quality of life and oral health. People with diabetes should be sure that their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status. To keep teeth and gums strong, people with diabetes should be aware of their blood sugar levels and have their triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis, as these factors may have a direct correlation with their risk for gum disease.
“People with diabetes who do not have good control over their blood sugar levels tend to have more oral health problems,” says Dr. Edington. “If your blood sugar is not under control, talk with both your dentist and physician about the possibility of receiving dental treatment beyond routine checkups and cleanings.”
It is recommended that patients with diabetes schedule their dental appointments for the morning hours, because blood glucose levels tend to be under better control at that time of day. Patients should eat and take their medications as directed prior to a dental appointment.
To learn more about oral health, visit www.KnowYourTeeth.com.
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of more than 35,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up to date in the profession through continuing education. Founded in 1952, the AGD has grown to become the second-largest dental association in the United States, and it is the only association that exclusively represents the needs and interests of general dentists. More than 772,000 persons in the United States are employed directly in the field of dentistry. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patients’ oral health needs. Learn more about AGD member dentists or find more information on dental health topics at www.KnowYourTeeth.com.
Contact: The AGD public relations department at 312.440.4346 or [email protected]
Note: Information that appears in General Dentistry, the AGD’s peer-reviewed journal, AGD Impact, the AGD’s newsmagazine, and related press releases do not necessarily reflect the endorsement of the AGD.