Saturday, August 25, 2012

Links Between Diabetes and Dental Care

There is a close connection between dental health and normalized blood sugar levels.
Why Is It Important to Visit a Dentist Immediately Upon Diabetes Diagnosis?
In short, the reason is because periodontal disease is the 6th major complication of diabetes.
Diabetes causes the human body to be more prone to bacterial infections, leaving diabetic individuals to have a decreased capacity to fight any foreign organisms (bacteria's or viruses) that invade the gums and the dental bone. Unfortunately, the average diabetic has had no idea about this relationship... , until now.
Due to the presence of higher levels of blood glucose (sugar) for longer periods of time than non-diabetics, diabetic patients suffer from tooth and gum problems much more often. Higher blood sugar levels cause bacteria to thrive. A person will soon have red, sore and swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. This almost always leads to a condition known as Periodontitis (inflammation around the gums and bones of the teeth).
Periodontitis is a severe infection of the gums and the bone that hold our teeth in place. If the infection worsens, a person's gums begin to pull away from your teeth, forming what are known as pockets. These pockets get larger as the gum disease is left untreated.
A person who has been diagnosed with diabetes you should immediately visit a dentist to begin preventative, or even reactionary measures to deal with the eventual development of harmful bacteria that leads to infections.
Prevention is always better than necessitating a cure!
Dental Home Care and the Diabetic Patient
The management of periodontal disease for a diabetic or a non-diabetic is thankfully very similar. One very important difference is that for a diabetic the disease can be more destructive so therefore it has to be treated more aggressively. An interesting situation to be noted is when a patient with periodontal issues will ask why they simply can't just have a regular cleaning. This is done when the patient has not yet suffered bone loss or when no infection is present. Once the patient is dealing with a solid symptom such as bleeding gums, there is an indication of disease and this needs to be addressed immediately before other treatment can commence.
Once treatment of the initial infection is successfully completed, the patient can come back and have a regular cleanings. Regular cleanings are vital to the control of many gum/teeth issues. The small oversight of prolonging the time between cleanings (prophylaxis) could lead to massive long-term consequences. Sometimes a dentist will recommend that a patient have scaling and root planning performed as an alternative.
This is done once a complete periodontal evaluation has been conducted. If any bone loss is detected the treatment options/course will certainly change in this respect and if left untreated the combination of gum decay and bone loss will lead to inevitable tooth loss. This can happen in the absence of pain. This is the problem with this condition. Pain is absent!
For many people, it's the dental care that takes place in the home that becomes more difficult to consistently follow. What I have found to be true is that if a patient is given an easy yet effective method of performing home dental care then they will be more consistent and compliant. This compliance and consistency leads to better results, both in a preventative and reactionary treatment form, causing the patient to further prioritize their dental care.
There are all sorts of devices, gadgets, and machinery to help a patient with their daily plaque removal (the number one maintenance concern). I find that electric toothbrushes (one that is especially soft and mouth friendly) work significantly better than manual brushes, and this simple change can have drastic differences in results. In addition, it is very important that the brush head be "soft." When the brush head is soft the gums are better protected from erosion (when toothbrush wears the root of the tooth) caused by brushing, resulting in less damage over time. In my practice I see that many patients simply use oral irrigators and do not follow through with physical removal of the plaque (brushing).
Imagine taking your car through a car wash without having the wash brushes make any contact with the vehicle itself. How effective could that car wash be? I'm sure you can imagine how dirty the car would be after its' dry. The dirt would still be present right? That is how plaque remains consistent on your teeth.

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