Approximately 17 million Americans have diabetes, and many are unaware that they have the disease. Often, there are oral signs of diabetes, such as chronic halitosis, bad taste in the mouth, gingivitis, periodontitis, and sore or loose teeth. Patients with diabetes typically have more problems with their teeth and gums because of high glucose levels, which can help bacteria thrive. Increased bacterial levels in conjunction with the patient's inability to resist infection can lead to periodontal disease. Regular dental visits that are scheduled according to insulin injections or meal times are important for patients with diabetes. In addition, these patients should use a new toothbrush at least every 3 months to reduce bacterial levels in the mouth, and they should pay special attention to home care.
(Source: GDA Action, The Journal of the Georgia Dental Association, January 2004)