The next time your dentist says “open wide,” he or she may find something more than cavities. A Columbia University College of Dental Medicine study reports that the presence of two common dental conditions provides a way for dentists to identify undiagnosed prediabetes and diabetes.
Diabetes affects your oral health
People who have diabetes are susceptible to dental problems associated with poorly controlled blood sugar levels, which interfere with the ability of white blood cells to fight bacterial infections that can occur in the mouth.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a reduction in the flow of saliva, which results in dry mouth. A dry mouth can lead to tooth decay (and ultimately tooth loss), mouth ulcers, and soreness. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop gum disease (e.g., gingivitis and periodontitis), and they do not heal as well or as quickly following dental procedures or oral surgery.
Diabetes is a large and increasingly growing problem, and early detection—either prediabetes or diabetes itself–can help individuals take steps to minimize and even reverse the disease. Researchers at Columbia University have discovered that an unconventional resource for identifying the disease could be a dental chair.