/publications/issue/2004/2004-05/2004-05-7892

Prevention Is Crucial to Fighting Diabetics' Dental Problems

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Toothbrushes and floss accompanying glucose-monitoring kits may be a good idea for diabetic patients. At the latest annual meeting of the American Dental Association, Marjorie Jeffcoat, DMD, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, outlined current strategies related to diabetes and oral health. This topic is timely, considering the epidemic of individuals with type 2 diabetes, she noted.

In fact, many physicians who specialize in diabetes consider periodontal disease to be a major complication of the disease. Diabetics are more prone to all types of infections, including gum disease. Dr. Jeffcoat stressed that diabetics need to make dental checkups a priority. She advises patients to visit the dentist at least 4 times a year. "We want to pick up any early signs of gum disease before it becomes too severe," she said.

To prevent oral surgery, Dr. Jeffcoat tells patients that the first line of defense is proper cleaning above and below the gum lines. At home, patients should brush and floss 2 times a day. As for dentists, they need to look for any signs of the disease in patients and to treat it aggressively.