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J Endod. 2003 Jun;29(6):383-9.

Diabetes mellitus and the dental pulp.

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Academy House, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.


This study attempts to evaluate the oral manifestations of and the limited available dental pulp information on diabetes mellitus, a common metabolic disorder of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism affecting over 16 million Americans. Diabetics are particularly prone to bacterial or opportunistic infections. This vulnerability is caused by a generalized circulatory disorder whereby the blood vessels are damaged by the accumulation of atheromatous deposits in the tissues of the blood vessels lumen. In addition, blood vessels, particularly capillaries, develop a thickened basement membrane, which impairs a leukotactic response, and there is a decrease in the polymorphonuclear leucocyte microbicidal ability and failure to deliver the humoral and cellular components of the immune system. Because the dental pulp has limited or no collateral circulation, it is more prone to be at risk for infection. Clinical and radiographic studies by other investigators have shown that there is a greater prevalence of periapical lesions in diabetics than in nondiabetics. In a study of 252 diabetics with poor glycemic control, a high rate of asymptomatic tooth infection was found. Inflammatory reactions are greater in diabetic states, and the increased local inflammation causes an intensification of diabetes with a rise in blood glucose, placing the patient in an uncontrolled diabetic state. This often requires an increase in insulin dosage or therapeutic adjustment. Removal of the inflammatory state in the periodontium created a need for a lesser amount of insulin for glycemic control. Thus, it is essential to remove all infections including those of the dental pulp. When diabetes mellitus is under therapeutic control, periapical and other lesions heal as readily as in nondiabetics.

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