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Oral infections can be a concern for people with diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may know that the disease can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart, as well as other parts of your body including the mouth. Diabetes can lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process.

Bacteria, viruses and fungi occur naturally in the mouth. The body's natural defenses and regular oral hygiene generally keep them in check. For people with diabetes, under some situations oral bacteria and fungi may proliferate and impede or defeat the body's defenses.

Oral candidiasis, a fungal infection in the mouth, appears to occur more frequently among persons with diabetes including those who wear dentures. Your dentist may prescribe antifungal medications to treat this condition. Good oral hygiene is critical.

Lichen planus is a skin disorder that produces lesions in the mouth. A more severe type of Lichen planus involves painful ulcers that erode surface tissue. Although there is no permanent cure, your dentist may prescribe a topical anesthetic or other medication to reduce and relieve the condition.

Preventive oral health care, including professional cleanings at the dental office, is important if you are to control the progression of oral health problems. Dental checkups and periodontal screenings are important for evaluating overall dental health and for treating dental problems in their initial stages.

In addition to brushing twice a day and flossing or using an interdental cleaner once a day, your dentist may suggest using an antimicrobial mouthrinse or toothpaste to control gingivitis.

Watch for signs and symptoms of oral disease and contact your dental office immediately when a problem arises. Practice good oral hygiene at home, follow your physician's instructions regarding diet and medications, and schedule regular dental checkups to maintain a healthy smile.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

8/10/2009

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