What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar (glucose), which may be due to improper cellular response to glucose, inadequate glucose production, or a combination thereof. 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.
  • Obese individuals, particularly those with belly fat, have an elevated risk of Type II diabetes.

How diabetes is related to the mouth?

  • Diabetes, if not well managed, increases infection risk and slows healing after dental surgeries
  • Dry mouth is a side effect of some medications. Because saliva is important for flushing out acids and germs, this increases the risk of cavities, infections, ulcers, and soreness.
  • Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop a type of oral fungal infection known as thrush.
  • Diabetes diminishes the immune system’s ability to fight infection.
  • Severe gum disease may increase glucose levels.
  • Individuals with Type II diabetes that is not treated and controlled have a greater risk of developing periodontal disease.
  • Many doctors consider periodontal disease to be the sixth complication of diabetes.

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; however, there is also a genetic factor in obesity, making it difficult to determine if the genetic link or lifestyle factors are responsible for Type II diabetes.


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