Approximately 17 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes mellitus, and more than 400,000 people die from the disease annually. Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus can result in many oral health complications, including gingivitis and periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, increased susceptibility to infections, caries, periapical abscesses, loss of teeth, loss of taste, and burning mouth syndrome. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reported in 2003 that smokers with Type 1 diabetes are 20 times more likely to develop destructive periodontitis than smokers without diabetes, and that people with Type 2 diabetes (noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) are 3 times more likely to develop periodontal disease than nondiabetic people. Research indicates that control of chronic infections such as periodontitis may improve glycemic control in people with Type 2 diabetes. Dentists may be the first healthcare professionals to detect signs and symptoms of diabetes and refer patients to a physician for additional evaluation.
(Source: Optimal Oral Health Report, The Pankey Institute, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2004)