Diabetes Complications

Dental Infections Are Trouble for Diabetes

If you have a dental infection and diabetes, you can never get your blood sugar stabilized.  I know this from my personal experience and from listening to Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.

Any infection will wreck havoc with our blood sugar management. But dental infections may be some of the most common infections. They can also be insidious, as I know all too well.

The typical dental infection is probably gum disease, which our dentists call periodontal disease. But root canal infections, known as endodontic or endodontal infections, can go undetected even by the best dentists. I know, because my dentist didn’t find mine for about a year.

Since I have lost a lot of weight and have been following a very low-carb diet ever more strictly in the past few years, I have expected my A1C level to come down below 5.0. In April 2003 it was 7.0 when I weighed 296 pounds. With my height, 6’ 2.5″, that’s a body mass index of 37.5, which is well into the obese range.

By June 2007, about a year and one-half after starting to take Byetta but still not consciously following a very low-carb diet, my weight had dropped to 186, a BMI of 23.6, which is in the normal range. My A1C was down to the level that Dr. Bernstein recommends, 4.6.

He writes on page 57 of the fourth edition of Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugarst hat in his experience a truly normal A1C ranges from 4.2 percent to 4.6 percent. He himself has type 1 diabetes and for years has kept his own level within that range.

Yet, this year my A1C has ranged from 5.1 to 5.7 in the tests that I take on the first of every month. I am following a very low-carb diet and my weight is just 156, a BMI of 19.8, well into the low normal weight range. So why don’t I have a normal A1C level?

I knew that Dr. Bernstein had described my problem, but I didn’t recognize it as mine.

“If a person has an infection, and there are hidden infections most commonly in the mouth such as periodontal disease or endodontal disease, which is a root canal infection, you’ll never get blood sugars normal or stabilized, especially if someone has a root canal infection that they don’t know about,” he said in one of his webcasts and later printed in his book Beating Diabetes Type 2. “Aside from those people, it’s a breeze. It may take a couple of days or it may take a few weeks. It’s quite easy to normalize blood sugars if you can get them to stick to our meal plan.” That meal plan is very low-carb.

My problem had to be the infected root canal that I found out about only recently. In fact, I had to go to five doctors and dentists before one of them discovered an infected root hidden behind one of the other two roots of a molar. Before that, my dentist and endodontist had taken x-rays and CT scans that had failed to find it.

Now that the infection is gone, I expect that I can bring my A1C level below 5.0. Have you had a problem managing your blood sugar because of a dental infection?

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • George Victor at

    Dear Mr. Mendosa,

    I read your article and find it very interresdting. I can relate to this undetected infection. I had a wisdom tooth that grew below my left eye and went undetected until I had an infection in a tooth and the doctor did two panoramic xrays to detect it. It was a very costly surgery to remove.

    George Victor
    Harrison Twp, MI

    • David Mendosa at

      Dear Mr. Victor,

      Thank you for your insightful comment. I don’t understand why all dentists don’t use panoramic x-rays.

      Best regards,
      David