Why did my diabetes doctor ask if have routine dental checkups?

Your doctor wants you to be informed about some of the potential dental risks that diabetics face. Gum (periodontal) disease is generally more common and more severe in patients with diabetes. This is because blood cells in the gums and jawbone that protect us from infection are not as effective. This means that a diabetic needs to work more diligently on oral hygiene, brushing and flossing, as well as make sure the disease is as controlled as possible.

If you have a dental infection, and require either a root canal or need to have a tooth removed, there are some important things for you to remember. Make sure you eat your normal breakfast before you go to the dentist. If you are taking insulin, take your normal dosage unless your dentist and physician have agreed to alter the dosage. If you have not eaten and are in pain or feel a high degree of stress prior to a dental procedure, this can cause your blood sugar to drop. By eating and taking the proper amount of insulin, you reduce the potentially dangerous complication of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Diabetics, especially poorly controlled diabetics, are at an increased risk for infection- that includes potential complications from dental infections. If your diabetes is under poor control "brittle," and your blood sugar is very high, dental surgical procedures may need to be delayed until you are under better control. In some cases, you may need to take antibiotics prior to and after certain dental procedures to reduce the risk of infection.

Your diabetes doctor wants to be sure that you are receiving appropriate and comprehensive health care. Along with checking your blood glucose levels regularly, staying on a well-balanced diet, and exercising each day, you need to have routine eye and oral health exams. You also need to check your skin and feet regularly for infections. You have a higher risk of infections, including oral infections and gum diseases (called periodontal diseases). You will need to see your dentist regularly and have routine cleanings and exams to prevent gum disease.


A diabetic doctor is well aware of how untreated dental problems may complicate management of a diabetic patient. A question I always ask my diabetic patients is what their A1C (glycolated hemoglobin) level is. If it is greater than 7 this indicates to me the diabetes is not well controlled and a complete exam is needed to see if there is a dental cause to the increased A1C level. Many times I will find abscessed teeth, cavities, or gum disease being a possible risk factor for the patient. After consulting with the diabetic doctor, a treatment plan can be arrived at to reduce or eliminate these common sources of dental infection and hopefully lower their A1C level. Once these problems are treated, regular cleaning and checkups will help keep a patients mouth healthy.

Routine dental screenings and cleanings are especially important if you have diabetes, as you are at greater risk of developing some oral health problems, such as gum disease, fungal infections and delayed healing.

Your doctor wants to ensure you are receiving the necessary regular oral health care, and more frequent cleanings and dentist visits may be needed. Your dentist can advise. Good oral health is related to good overall health.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.