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Oral Health Topics

Diabetes

Key Points

  • Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases  that lead to high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia), which is caused when the body does not make any or enough insulin, or does not use insulin well.
  • Because diabetes is a relatively common condition, practicing dentists are likely to encounter it frequently.
  • Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the beta cells in the pancreas create little to no insulin, and accounts for 5% to 10% of all diabetes cases. In contrast, Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% to 90% or more of diabetes cases and is one of the commonest chronic diseases, characterized by decreased response of target tissues to normal levels of insulin.
  • As with any patient, the dentist should review the patient’s medical history, take vital signs, and evaluate for oral signs and symptoms of inadequately controlled diabetes, which may be common. Oral manifestations of uncontrolled diabetes can include: xerostomia; burning sensation in the mouth; impaired/delayed wound healing; increased incidence and severity of infections; secondary infection with candidiasis; parotid salivary gland enlargement; gingivitis; and/or periodontitis.
  • Although patients with diabetes usually recognize signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and self-intervene before changes in or loss of consciousness occurs, staff should be trained to recognize the signs and treat patients who have hypoglycemia.  In such cases, a glucometer should be used to test patient blood glucose levels, and every dental office should have a protocol for managing hypoglycemia in both conscious and unconscious patients.

  • Introduction
  • Disease Description
  • Glucose Control
  • Dental Considerations for People with Diabetes
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources
Prepared by: Center for Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute
Last Updated: May 16, 2017


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