What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body's cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both. There is more than one type of diabetes.

  • Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are Type I and usually develop before a person is 40 years old.
  • Type II accounts for 90% of all cases.
  • Persons with obesity, especially those with belly fat, are at a higher risk for Type II diabetes.

How diabetes is related to the mouth?

  • Gum disease is considered the 6th complication of diabetes.
  • Uncontrolled Type II diabetics are at higher risk for gum disease.
  • Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar.
  • Diabetics have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
  • Diabetics are at an increased risk for developing thrush (fungal infection in the mouth).
  • Medications can cause dry mouth (less saliva to wash away germs and the acids germs create), which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities.
  • Poorly controlled diabetes will cause slow healing and increase the risk of infection after dental surgery.

Family History Link

One inherits a predisposition to diabetes, which is then triggered by environmental factors. In most Type I cases, people need to inherit risk factors from both parents. The family history has a stronger link in Type II cases, but obesity also runs in families, so it's hard to determine if Type II diabetes is caused by the genetic link or lifestyle factors.





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