Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of Dental Decay and its Sequelae in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus

Publication ID Published Version
9252 October 12, 2012 1


While dental decay is not recognized as a complication of diabetes mellitus (DM), individuals with diabetes are not immune to dental decay and its sequelae. Dental decay and its sequelae, although mostly chronic with mild symptoms, are infections which can become acute at any time and cause more serious maxillofacial space and deep neck space infections. Studies have shown that diabetes patients, due to their impaired immunity, are more susceptible to Ludwig angina and extended deep neck space infections of odontogenic origin. These conditions require extensive antibiotic therapy, surgical drainage, intensive glycemic control, and longer hospitalization in patients with DM. Even with such extensive medical care, the conditions are likely to recur unless the infection source is removed.

Prevention and early treatment of dental decay in patients with diabetes can avoid serious dental abscesses and life-threatening deep head and neck infection, septicemia and death. It will also reduce healthcare expenditure and improve the quality of life (Q of L) of DM patients.

Management of patients with diabetes is an essential part of the undergraduate and graduate curriculum of oral health professional education. However, it is important for all members of the diabetes patient care team to work together to optimize the outcome of oral healthcare in patients with DM. Teaching and learning the oral health care in patients with diabetes will take planning and resources. This resource provides an overview of dental decay and its sequelae, the current understanding of its aggressive progression and inadequate response to the treatment in DM patients, strategies of prevention and early treatment. This resource not only serves as fundamental knowledge of diabetes and dental decay, it also provides mechanisms of interdisciplinary communications and team-based oral health care in DM patients.

This resource is composed of four documents, a PowerPoint presentation, clinical cases discussions, a clinical manual, as well as this instructor’s guide. The PowerPoint presentation and case discussions are mainly to be used as a tutorial in the health care professional school curriculum (medical, dental, nursing, and others) of dental decay and its sequelae. They emphasize infection sources of head and neck abscess in diabetes patients and how removing these infection sources by oral health care professionals (dentists) can spare patients from costly treatment and morbidity or mortality. Other health professional educators can also be benefit from it.


Geist R, Geist J. Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of Dental Decay and its Sequelae in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2012. Available from:

Contains Information Suitable for Patient Education

Educational Objectives

  1. To provide an overview of dental decay and its sequelae.
  2. To identify the symptoms and signs of each stage of the process of dental caries and its sequelae.
  3. To identify the importance of early detection and treatment of dental decay, especially in patients with diabetes.
  4. To address diabetes as a risk factor in aggressive progression and inadequate response to the treatment of dental decay and its sequelae.
  5. To describe the importance of removal of the infection source in the treatment of dental decay-related infections in diabetes patients.
  6. To critically apply the evidence in making clinical decisions on managing dental decay-related infections in diabetes patients.
  7. To present the evidence of the need for oral health promotion in the population of diabetes patients.
  8. To manage diabetic dental patients based on current evidence.
  9. To prevent or manage hypoglycemic episodes.


  • Diabetes Mellitus, Odontogenic Infection, Maxillofacial Space Infection, Deep Neck Space Infection, Glycemic Control, Tooth Decay, Caries, Hypoglycemia, Building Oral Health Capacity (BOHC) Collection


  • Medical
    • Internal Medicine
      • Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism
  • Dental
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
    • Preventive Dentistry


  • Interpersonal & Communication Skills
  • Interprofessional Collaboration
  • Knowledge for Practice
  • Patient Care
    • Promote health prevention
  • Practice-based Learning & Improvement
  • Systems-based Practice

Professional Interest

  • Oral Health

Instructional Methods

  • Case-based Instruction/Learning
  • Independent Learning
  • Lecture
  • Problem-based Learning (PBL)
  • Tutorial

Academic Focus

  • Basic Sciences
    • Immunology
    • Microbiology
    • Pathology
  • Clinical Sciences
    • Clinical Skills/Doctoring

Intended Audience

  • Professional School
    • Dental Student
    • Medical Student
    • Nursing Student
  • Professional School Post-Graduate Training
    • Resident


  • Presentation
  • Reference
  • Virtual Patient

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ISSN 2374-8265