American Diabetes Month®
The vision of the American Diabetes Association is a life free of diabetes and all of its burdens. Raising awareness of this ever-growing disease is one of the main efforts behind the mission of the Association. American Diabetes Month® (ADM) is an important element in this effort, with programs designed to focus the nation’s attention on the issues surrounding diabetes and the many people who are impacted by the disease.
Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes:
- Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
- Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
- The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.
American Diabetes Month takes place each November and is a time to come together as a community to Stop Diabetes®!
Diabetes can affect the entire body. Whether your diabetes affects your mouth and gums depends on how well you are able to control your blood sugar. If your diabetes is under control, it should have little effect on your oral health. However, if your diabetes is not under control, the oral effects can be dramatic.
People with diabetes can have:
- Periodontal (gum) disease that gets worse rapidly
- Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Poor healing in the mouth
- Oral candidiasis (thrush)
- Burning mouth and/or tongue
Uncontrolled diabetes hurts your white blood cells, a main defense against infection. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, so people with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to have it. Their gum disease also is likely to be more severe.
If you have severe periodontal disease, you need to get treatment. Successful treatment also can help improve diabetic control. Any type of infection may cause blood sugar levels to rise. This includes periodontal disease. If the infection is treated successfully, your blood sugar may go down, and you may need less medicine to control your diabetes.
The most important part of controlling periodontal disease is your follow-up home care. If you don’t brush and floss daily, your disease will not improve and will most likely get worse. This will make controlling your diabetes more difficult.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) can increase your risk of tooth decay (cavities). Saliva normally washes away sugars and bits of food that are fuel for decay-causing bacteria. These bacteria can cause more decay in a dry mouth.
People with uncontrolled diabetes may have decreased flow of saliva. However, it’s not clear whether diabetics have more or less tooth decay than non-diabetics.
Brush twice a day and floss every day to prevent decay. If you have dry mouth, you may want to ask your dentist or physician about artificial saliva or other means of moistening your mouth. Fluoride rinses or gels should be used to help prevent decay.
If you have uncontrolled diabetes, you may have problems healing quickly after oral surgery or other dental treatment. There are several reasons for the slow healing, including poor blood flow to the site.
You also may be at risk of a fungal (yeast) infection called thrush or oral candidiasis. This condition is treated with antifungal medicine. Thrush can cause a burning sensation and/or a bad metallic taste in the mouth. Other conditions related to diabetes also can cause a burning sensation in the mouth. Your dentist or a specialist can examine you and determine whether you have thrush or a different condition.