Dental Treatment for the Diabetic Patient

Diabetes mellitus is one of the world’s major chronic health problems. In the United States alone, this metabolic disorder affects an estimated 30.3 million people (9.4% of the population). Non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults. 1  Among men and women over 65 years of age, where the rates of edentulism are highest, an estimated 18.4% of the individuals have some form of disease.2  Almost 27% of adults aged 20 and over (86 million) adults have prediabetes.1

For people at risk of diabetes, good dental health and treatment is crucial.

Diabetes is a complex syndrome with more than one cause and is responsible for numerous complications affecting the entire body. Diabetes has been associated with dry mouth, increased levels of salivary glucose, swelling of the parotid gland, and an increased incidence of caries. Adult diabetics experience a higher risk of developing periodontitis than nondiabetics. 2 3 Diabetic patients seem to be more prone to infection. 4 5 6  Healing occurs more slowly, following surgery, exposing the tissues to complications such as tissue necrosis.7

Why is it important for diabetic patients to see a dentist regularly?

A vicious circle exists between diabetes and gum disease. The presence of inflammation anywhere in the body can raise blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes increases the chance of a bacterial infection in the mouth because of the body’s reduced capacity to fight infection.

People with diabetes have a higher incidence of gum disease or periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to worsening blood glucose control, because bacteria in the gum or bone. 3

Periodontitis means “inflammation around the tooth.”  It is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the tooth. All periodontal diseases, including periodontitis, are infections which affect the tissues that are around and support the tooth. With periodontitis, the alveolar bone around the teeth is slowly and progressively lost. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, stick to the surface of the tooth and multiply. An overactive immune system reacts with inflammation.

Untreated periodontitis will eventually result in tooth loss, and can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and other health problems. Bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless membrane that develops over the surface of teeth, is the most common cause of periodontal disease. 5

People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections, as high blood sugar levels can weaken the patient’s immune system defenses. In addition, some diabetes-related health issues, such as nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the extremities, increase the body’s vulnerability to infection.4  A gum infection can affect your blood sugar level. They found that, compared to those with healthy gums, people with severe gum disease have higher long-term blood sugar levels (A1c):

  1. Could be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes 6
  2. Can be at a higher risk of developing pregnancy gestational diabetes 6
  3. Have a harder time controlling their type 2 diabetes; are at a higher risk 6
  4. Are at risk of experiencing harm to eyes and kidneys 6
  5. Those with diabetes are at increased risk of heart attack and. 6

Severe gum disease (periodontitis) can cause diabetes. According to researchers at Marquette University, “Periodontitis may [raise levels of inflammatory cytokines and serum lipids]. These cytokines can produce an insulin resistance syndrome similar to that observed in diabetes and initiate destruction of pancreatic beta cells leading to development of diabetes.” 7

Gum infections can raise blood glucose levels. At the same time, high blood glucose makes it harder to fight infections. 7

Can people with diabetes have dental implant treatment?

Dr. Glenn Wolfinger reports, “Studies have shown that diabetic patients can be treated at the same level of success with osseointegrated dental implants as long as those patients are able to maintain their blood sugar levels throughout the entire healing period.  While diabetic patients may exhibit slower healing than the average patient, they can still be treated successfully if they can control their diabetes.” READ MORE

Strong healthy teeth help to ensure good overall health. Problems in the mouth can affect the rest of the body. It is our goal at Pi Dental Center, to help people obtain ideal oral health. If you are considering dental implant treatment and have diabetes, please feel free to contact us to discuss your treatment.


1. Diabetes Latest (CDC)

2. Dental Implants and the Diabetic Patient: A Retrospective Study 

3. Diabetes and Dental Health

4. What are common infections with diabetes?

5. What is periodontitis? What Causes periodontitis?

6. Gum disease can raise your blood sugar level

7. Diabetes and your gums

8. Restoring Facial Appearance Using Osseointegrated Dental (Branemark) Implants

Pi Dental Center, Fort Washington, PA