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Diabetes (also called diabetes mellitus) is a chronic systemic disease which affects your body’s ability to process sugars in your food. As a result, a diabetic patient will have a high blood glucose (sugar) level which can cause a host of issues including problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, and heart. Diabetes can also lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. Diabetes can also affect your oral health in many different ways.

Fast Facts About Diabetes

-Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels.

-Diabetes currently affects over 371 million people worldwide and is expected to affect over 550 million by the year 2030. In the United States, a new case of diabetes is diagnosed once every 30 seconds and more than 1.9 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

Types Of Diabetes

-Type 1 Diabetes – In this type, the body does not produce insulin. About 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.

Type 2 Diabetes – In this type, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function. About 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.

-Gestational Diabetes – In this type, pregnant females are affected

Common Diabetes Symptoms

1) Frequent need to urinate (polyuria)

2) Intense thirst (polydipsia) and hunger (polyphagia)

3) Unexpalined weight gain

4) Unusual weight loss

5) Fatigue (tiredness)

6) Cuts and bruises that do not heal

7) Male sexual dysfunction

8) Numbness and tingling in hands and feet

-If you have Type 1 and follow a healthy eating plan, do adequate exercise, and take insulin, you can lead a normal life with little to no complications.

-Type 2 patients need to eat healthily, be physically active, and test their blood glucose. They may also need to take oral medication, and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels.

-As the risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher for a diabetic, it is crucial that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are monitored regularly.

-As smoking might have a serious effect on cardiovascular health, diabetics should stop smoking.

-Hypoglycemia – low blood glucose – can have a bad effect on the patient.

-Hyperglycemia – high blood glucose – can also have a bad effect on the patient.

How Is Your Dental Health Affected By Diabetes?

Periodontal Disease. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, diabetics have an increased risk for developing gingivitis (earliest and most treatable form of periodontal disease), 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 check-ups, periodontal disease may progress if left untreated. It also can cause inflammation and destruction of tissues surrounding and supporting teeth, gums, bone and fibers that hold the gums to the teeth. Research has shown that treating periodontal disease in people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar control.

Burning Mouth SyndromeBurning mouth syndrome is a chronic burning in the mouth without an obvious cause. The discomfort can affect your tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth or widespread areas of your oral cavity. Burning mouth syndrome appears suddenly and can be severe, as if you burned your mouth.

-Fungal infections (such as thrush and oral candidiasis). Since diabetes weakens your immune system, you may be prone to developing fungal infections. Symptoms include painful sores and difficulty swallowing. If you develop a fungal infection, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible.

-Dry mouth (xerostomia). Uncontrolled diabetes can decrease salivary flow, which can result in dry mouth. Dry mouth can further lead to soreness, oral ulcers, oral infections, and increased incidence of tooth decay.

-Infection and delayed healing. People with uncontrolled diabetes do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be impaired.

Dental Care Tips For Diabetic Patients

-Maintain Good Blood Sugar Levels.

-Keep your healthcare team informed including your dentist.

-See your dentist regularly for dental hygiene visits as well as oral examinations. It is recommended that you visit your dentist and hygienist at least every 6 months. For many diabetic patients, it is advised that they go on a more frequent schedule to maintain proper oral health.

-Brush and Floss Daily. This is to prevent plaque build up and keep periodontal disease away. In fact, it is recommended that diabetic patients brush following every meal to ensure good dental hygiene.

-Denture wearers should remove their dentures and clean them daily. Do not sleep in them.

-If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.

-Maintain regular visits to your diabetes doctor to ensure there are no conflicts between dental treatment and your general treatment.

-Remember that healing may take longer in people with diabetes. Follow your dentist‘s post-treatment instructions closely.

-Patients with diabetes with orthodontic appliances should contact their orthodontist immediately if a wire or bracket results in a cut to their tongue or mouth.


Diabetes can be a scary diagnosis but with proper monitoring and care it does not have to be. A well controlled diabetic can leave a very normal life and stay healthy for a long, long time. Dental care should never be compromised even for healthy individuals.


How do the science of dentistry and stem cells go together?  Stem cells have long been debated in the public forum, usually in regards to cloning an individual or animal, not generally thought of in regard to teeth. This type of science brings up both ethical concerns and advancements in research with clinical applications in a whole host of areas. Stem Cells are  unspecialized cells that have the capacity to replicate themselves as well as the ability to produce highly specific cells needed for different types of tissue formation. These stem cells have been harvested from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood cells, and adipose tissues.

Possible Use Of Stem Cells In Dentistry

Recent research has proven that the tissues that form teeth, (odontogenic tissue) are a viable source of  stem cells ( Mesenchymal stem cells or MSC’s). The research has shown that the very core of the tooth (the dental pulp) especially in third molars and baby teeth, (deciduous teeth) that are getting ready to fall out, are the preferred teeth for stem cells. At this time there are millions of these teeth being surgically removed or falling out on their own every year. The potential of these cells goes untapped as they are simply discarded. These stem calls might have the ability to help individuals suffering from diseases such as, type 1 diabetes, muscular dystrophy, parkinson’s disease, and possibly spinal cord injuries. The stem cells are also being studied to see which type of useful tissues can be grown and used in repair.

In dentistry, these stem cells have not yet been proven to develop new teeth but have given some hope to dentists offering regenerative medicine to their patients. This can include the following:

Alveolar Bone Regeneration – Allows bone regrowth in areas where bone has been lost. This can give hope to patients who have lost teeth and bone. The ability to receive dental implants can restore lost function and esthetics.

Periodontal Tissue Regeneration – This can allow the dentist the ability to replace lost diseased tissues with healthy natural tissues thus restoring an individuals periodontal state to a healthy one.

Regenerating lost teeth with stem cells is a very difficult proposition with many hurdles to overcome. These include a unique challenge for researchers because the stem cells must be stimulated to grow the proper mixture of hard tissue, dentin and enamel, while developing into the correct size and shape. The other issue is developing teeth that have proper nerve stimulation and blood supply.

Stem Cells Collection

The silver lining in stem cell use in dentistry might be the fact that  primary teeth, which simply fall out on their own, are a major source of stem cells for future use. So, these can simply be collected and saved when they fall out with little or no discomfort to the patient.  Since you could potentially save your own child’s teeth, there would be virtually no chance of genetic rejection of the cells if needed later in life by them.

At this time there are a few laboratories nationwide that are accredited with the collection and storage of teeth for possible use at a later date. These laboratories include StemSave, BioEden, and Store-A-Tooth.

Stem Cell Conclusion

While still in its infancy, research in stem cells is developing some real promise in the science of dentistry. Teeth have been regenerated in mice and monkeys but humans will take far more work and research. If research is allowed to continue at its current pace, in the decades to come we can see some real changes in how we deal with systemic diseases as well as tooth loss. The diseases that stem cells can potentially cure or place in remission can be truly limitless. These diseases may include, leukemia, cancer, and even possibly diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar. This is happens when the body does not produce enough

insulin, or because cells in the body do not respond to the insulin that is produced. The the classical symptoms of  Diabetes are, frequent urination (polyuria), increased thirst (polydipsia) and increased hunger (polyphagia).

3 Different Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes – This type results from the body’s inability to produce insulin. This type of diabetes usually begins at a young age and requires the person to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This form of diabetes has also been called insulin dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes – This type results from insulin resistance. This occurs when the cells in the body are unable to utilize the insulin in the body in the right way. Can also be combined with a deficiency of insulin in the body. This form of diabetes is also called non insulin dependent diabetes or adult onset diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes – The last main form of diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant may develop this form of diabetes and it may precede development of type 2 diabetes. Women with this form must be monitored closely for their own health as well as that of the baby.

Diabetes Effect on Dental Care

If you suffer from diabetes then you may be at a higher risk of developing many oral health issues vs people without diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of developing periodontal disease. Diabetes reduces your ability to fight off infection. You are also more susceptible to acquiring oral infections (both bacterial and fungal) with diabetes , these infections also take longer to heal. Thrush is a common fungal infection prevalent in diabetics. Thrush (oral candidiasis) produces red and white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. These patchy areas can progess into ulcers which cause an itching, painful, burning sensation and difficulty swallowing. Diabetes also causes dry mouth. Dry mouth allows cavity bacteria to overgrow and quickly decay teeth.

So what can a diabetic patient do?

Top 5 Dental Tips for Diabetics

1) Maintain Good Oral Hygiene at Home. It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day at the very least. Although

after every meal or snack is even better. Use a soft bristled brush or electric toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste. Avoid aggressive brushing which can irritate your gums and lead to infection. Flossing should be done at least once per day. Flossing can be done with regular flossing or with various interdental cleaners on the market like the flosser. A good mouthwash can be recommended as well to help combat the level of bacteria in the mouth. Chew gum and try sugar free candy after meals to keep saliva flowing and acid levels down. Drink water often and keep sugary beverages to a minimum.

2) Good Control over your Blood Glucose Levels. This will help not only your oral health, but also your overall health. Maintaining good blood glucose levels will help reduce the risk of developing infections as mentioned above. If you do acquire a mouth infection you should see your dentist immediately. They can prescribe an anti fungal or antibacterial medication to treat the infection. Monitor your blood sugar level, and keep your blood sugar level within your target range as outlined by your physician. The better you control your blood sugar level, the less likely you are to develop periodontal disease and other dental issues.

3)  Regular Dental Exams and Cleanings. Diabetes patients should visit your dentist 2-4 times per year for dental examinations and professional cleanings. Remember to let your dentist know that you have diabetes. This should include whether or not it is well controlled and discussing any medications you may be taking.  Also, inform your dentist about any oral or dental problems you may be having, including dry mouth. To prevent low blood sugar during dental work, you might want to eat before your dental visits.

4) Denture Care. Patients who wear dentures are more prone to developing thrush. Dentures should be removed and cleaned daily. It is usually recommended to remove dentures for periods of time to give the tissues a chance to avoid irritations and to heal any irritations which might occur.

5) Do Not Smoke. Smoking is bad for the healthy individual but for those with diabetes it is doubly important to avoid smoking. Smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including periodontal disease and oral infections. If you do smoke, ask your doctor about options to help you quit.

Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment that must include proper dental care. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.