According to the Journal of Dental Practice, February 2017, seeing the dentist twice a year is important for more than oral care. It can indicate the possible presence of Type 2 diabetes. Scientists at the University of Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul, and several other research institutions in Brazil compared 116 Type 2 diabetic dental participants with 134 nondiabetic dental participants. Oral problems were seen more often in the people who had a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

The problems most often are seen were …

  • pseudomembranous candidiasis,
  • lichen planus,
  • lingual varices,
  • xerostomia (dry mouth), and
  • inflamed implants.

The researchers concluded oral lesions should be diagnosed as soon as possible in those with Type 2 diabetes for two reasons. Dental problems can lead to out-of-control blood sugar levels, and dental problems can allow microorganisms to enter and form infections. The researchers go on to recommend dental treatment should be carried out as soon as possible.

Pseudomembranous candidiasis is a fungal infection which forms white plaques in the mouth. The fungal species Candida can be found in the mouth of healthy people but can cause infection in patients with compromised immune systems. Diabetic patients are susceptible to infection because high and unstable blood sugar levels impair the immune system.

Lichen planus takes place in the mouth and on the skin. In the mouth, it appears as tiny, lace-like white patches or redness and swelling. They can peel, and sores can cause burning pain. It has been suggested lichen planus could have due to the hepatitis C virus. When a metal filling is involved switching to nonmetal can be curative.

Xerostomia is oral dryness caused by lack of saliva. Anyone with the condition is susceptible to infections because they do not make enough saliva to keep their mouth clean. Signs and symptoms include …

  • a sensation of dryness,
  • stringy saliva,
  • having difficulty with swallowing or speaking,
  • bad breath,
  • tooth decay,
  • gum disease, and
  • a change in the sense of taste.

Implants can become inflamed when bacteria grow around them, just as it can around natural teeth. Keeping blood sugar levels under control help to prevent bacteria from growing. Bacteria grow when saliva provides it with energy in the form of sugar. As the bacteria grow and multiply, the compromised immune system is unable to fight the infection.

When the above dental problems are diagnosed, especially in people at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, then blood sugar levels need to be measured. Factors putting people at risk include …

  • being overweight or obese,
  • smoking or air pollution,
  • a family history,
  • a history of Gestational diabetes or having had a baby weighing 9 pounds or over,
  • poor nutrition,
  • age at least 45 years,
  • African, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian or Pacific Islander heritage,
  • having high blood pressure, and
  • leading a sedentary lifestyle.