What We’re Reading: Diabetes and Oral Health

A recent post on the Side by Side blog of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) has us thinking about diabetes and oral health. The post discusses how the teeth and mouth, like the feet, are often-overlooked sites of preventable diabetes complications.

The post focuses on one oral complication in particular: periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, bone, and other tissues that support the teeth. The infection is brought on mainly by plaque, the film that forms on the teeth, which irritates the gums and can cause them to pull away from the teeth. This process can lead to the formation of infected “pockets” under the gum line. If not properly treated, periodontal disease can break down a tooth’s supporting tissues and can lead to tooth loss.

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People with diabetes are at increased risk for periodontal disease, most likely because they are at increased risk for infections generally. It is therefore especially important for them to maintain good dental hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist. Tight blood glucose control also reduces the risk of periodontal disease.

And periodontal disease is not the only dental problem associated with diabetes. In “Disease, Treatment, and Oral Health,” dental hygienist Shirley Gutkowski looks at other ways diabetes and diabetes treatments can affect oral health.

This blog entry was written by Assistant Editor David Golann.