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Oral Health Topics


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 insulin, dysregulation of insulin production, or a combination of both.
  • 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
  • Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
  • Dental Considerations for People with Diabetes
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources
Last Updated: April 12, 2019

Prepared by:

Department of Scientific Information, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, ADA Science & Research Institute, LLC.


Content on the Oral Health Topics section of is for informational purposes only.  Content is neither intended to nor does it establish a standard of care or the official policy or position of the ADA; and is not a substitute for professional judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  ADA is not responsible for information on external websites linked to this website.