According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million American adults and children have diabetes. Of those, 5.7 million do not know that they have it. Of even greater concern is that nearly 3 times that number—an estimated 57 million people—have a condition called prediabetes, and a significant proportion of these people will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.
Delta Dental, the nation’s largest dental benefits provider, is reminding people during American Diabetes Month that regular visits to the dentist’s office can help potential diabetics get an early warning that they should be on alert.
We’ve known for a long time that people with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease. And today, although not yet firmly established, evidence is emerging that periodontal (gum) disease is associated with increased risk for diabetes complications and may be associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes.
The connection between diabetes and oral health is just one example of the relationship between an individual’s oral health and his or her overall wellness. It also underscores the important role that oral health care providers can have in early detection of serious systemic diseases.
There are numerous reasons to keep regular checkups on your calendar, even if you take good care of your teeth.
- Dental professionals can use today’s dental exams to screen for oral cancers and other health issues that can be difficult to spot on your own. More than 120 diseases can cause specific signs and symptoms in and around the mouth and jaw. Dental professionals performing checkups can spot symptoms that could indicate serious health problems elsewhere in the body that need attention.
- Checkups allow your dentist to keep up with changes to your health status. Upon learning of medical conditions you’ve developed or treatments you’re receiving, your dentist can recommend strategies to help you proactively counter the negative effects the conditions and treatments would otherwise have on your oral health.
- Preventive checkups provide dentists with opportunities to identify and intervene early in dental diseases. This can reduce any pain and the financial costs associated with more severe forms of dental diseases. If caught early, periodontal disease is easier to manage and, in some cases, reverse.
 American Diabetes Association
 Journal of Periodontology, March 2007
 Steven L. Bricker, Robert P. Langlais, and Craig S. Miller, Oral Diagnosis, Oral Medicine and Treatment Planning (Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1994)