Researchers are trying to understand what makes minorities more at risk for diabetes. Nothing concrete yet, but it’s a fact that diabetes is on the rise among African Americans and Latinos. African Americans are 1.6 times more likely to develop diabetes as whites of similar age and gender. Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely and Mexican-Americans are twice as likely.

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. The Western diet is high in processed and fast foods. Many fast foods have little nutritional value and often contain high amounts of sodium and fat. This type of diet increases the chances of one becoming obese and developing Type 2 diabetes.

Although science has yet to determine the exact cause of diabetes, research has shown that poor dietary habits and a lifestyle without much exercise will increase your chances of developing diabetes. So what do you do if you know because of your ethnicity, family history or weight that you may be prone to developing diabetes?

• Get your blood sugar tested
• Get your blood pressure checked
• Take all medicines as directed by your doctor.
• Follow a diet and exercise plan your doctor recommends.

Diabetes can also weaken your mouth’s germ-fighting powers. High blood sugar levels can wreak havoc and let gum disease get out of control, which in turn will make the diabetes harder to control. Often, gum disease is painless and you many not even know you have it until serious damage is done. Regular check-ups with your dentist are the best weapon to detect gum disease early. Some early warning signs that you can watch for are:

• Bleeding gums when you brush or floss. Bleeding is never normal. Even if your
gums don’t hurt, get them checked.
• Red, swollen, or tender gums.
• Gums that have pulled away from teeth. Part of the tooth’s root may show, or your
teeth may look longer.
• Pus between the teeth and gums.
• Bad breath.
• Permanent teeth that are loose or moving away from each other.
• Changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite.

Diabetes affects 23.6 million Americans. If you have any of the above symptoms, please get an appointment for a check up. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, please know that this disease can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, teeth, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body. It is important to get your blood sugar under control to protect your long-term health.