When a Few Cavities Are More Than a Few Cavities

close up of a single white tooth with a dental mirror tool propped on it

One of the first signs of diabetes is in your mouth.

In fact, if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, which is often a precursor to diabetes, you should pay close attention to not only your blood sugar, but also your teeth, gums and tongue.

Why Be Concerned about Dry?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 96 million American adults have prediabetes. This mostly invisible condition means that your blood-glucose levels are higher than normal, but not elevated enough to qualify as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is startlingly common, affecting one in three Americans – and yet most are unaware.

If you’ve been told you have prediabetes or that your blood-glucose levels are high, think about whether you’ve experienced dry mouth, if your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, or if you’ve had cavities or gum disease.

Because dry mouth is one of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, it’s important that you take stock of your oral health. Research also shows that people with diabetes, whether diagnosed or not, have a higher chance of developing gum disease at more advanced stages.

The reason is simple: if your sugar level is high in your blood, it’ll be high in your saliva, too. This can lead to a multitude of oral problems that, like diabetes, can develop under your health radar.

Oral Health for Overall Health

It’s always important to practice good oral health and have regular dental check ups. For people with prediabetes and diabetes, however, it’s crucial. Follow these tips:

  • Schedule regular cleanings when recommended by your dentist to help decrease or eliminate oral bacteria.
  • Remind your dentist that you have diabetes or prediabetes at each visit.
  • Connect the doctors treating your prediabetes/diabetes with your dentist so they can share your health information for better overall treatment.

Reverse Your Risk

Even if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, it’s not assured that you’ll develop type 2 diabetes. In restoring good health by improving eating habits, making exercise a priority and keeping blood glucose in check, you can reverse the harmful path of prediabetes.

If you’re covered under U-M’s health plans, you can enroll in a Diabetes Prevention Program. The programs offer education, personal coaching and tracking tools to help you tackle your risk factors.

The programs are open to eligible U-M employees and their eligible family members. View the DPP web page for information about eligibility, the application process (it’s quick and easy!), and more.

For More Info

View more information about better oral health and prediabetes/diabetes.

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