Type 2 Diabetes is at an all-time high in the United States. In fact, the deadly disease is on the rise across the globe. We find that more and more patients are concerned that they will be diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes and its long-term effects, and we don’t blame them.
Thankfully, there are many steps a patient can take to protect themselves from the disease, and we can help. Anyone who is at risk for diabetes or who has already been diagnosed should have a number of people on their Diabetes Wellness Team, including their dentist.
Today, we will discuss how regular visits to the dentist can help diabetic patients in three ways, including prevention and diagnosis.
1. Dentists are in the front line of prevention and diagnosis
The first line of defense against a progressive disease like diabetes is prevention. The second line of defense is an early diagnosis.
This is exactly where we come into play. At Meyer Dental Group, we’ve been able to help our patients get an early diagnosis so that they can start getting the treatment they need. An oral exam is also helpful because we can recommend oral and general health tips that will help slow or reverse the progression of the disease.
So, how can Type 2 diabetes be detected at a dental office? First, it is important to know that this disease affects more than the body’s insulin levels. Higher blood sugar levels can wreak havoc on the entire body, including the mouth.
According to EveryDayHealth.com, high blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, kidney disease, heart disease, and blindness, just to name a few.
How does this disease affect a patient’s oral health?
Type 2 diabetes can cause:
- Gum disease—starting with gingivitis (stage I periodontal disease) and if left untreated can progressing to more serious and damaging stages of the periodontal disease.
- Thrush (a white rash caused by a fungal infection in the mouth).
- Dry mouth.
- Tooth decay.
During an examination, we check the patient’s teeth for decay, their gums for periodontal disease, and we also do a soft tissue examination. A soft tissue exam is when we check the inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, back of the throat, the tongue and the floor of the mouth.
If we notice anything that isn’t within normal limits, we will look for a common thread. For instance, if a patient has dry mouth and decay, the likely issue is medications they’re taking or an underlying medical problem.
We will keep searching until we come up with a diagnosis. In many cases, we will refer a patient to their medical doctor to evaluate for diseases like oral cancer, heart disease, and yes—Type 2 diabetes. We have found that there are a lot of instances in which the dentist is the first line of defense when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of a non-oral disease.
2. Providing Oral Health Tips for Patients Dealing with Type 2 Diabetes
After a diagnosis, the second way Dr. Tom Meyer can help his patients is by providing oral health tips. These tips will not only help to prevent oral diseases, like periodontal disease (gum disease), they will help to prevent disease throughout the body.
Here are a few of our recommendations for our patients who want to protect their mouths from the effects of Type 2 diabetes.
- Do your best to control your blood sugar levels every day.
- Brush at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes.
- Floss at least once every day.
- Avoid high-sugar foods, to prevent both blood sugar spikes and tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist at every six months, unless recommended by Dr. Tom Meyer to visit more frequently. Keeping regular maintenance visits is crucial.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
- Alert Dr. Tom Meyer to any oral changes like dry mouth, sores, and pain.
3. Providing Oral Health Education for Patients Dealing with Type 2 Diabetes
The third way our Des Plaines dental office team helps our patients with disease prevention is through education. We are here to answer all their oral health questions.
If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or periodontal disease, you should know how to prevent the progression and reverse damage.
Here are five questions you should ask your Des Plaines IL dentist if you have diabetes:
- Do you have any dietary recommendations to help prevent tooth, gum, and general body diseases?
- What should my hygiene and exam maintenance schedule be, and will this change if I’m ever diagnosed with certain oral or other diseases?
- Have you found anything during your exam that I should report back to my primary care physician?
- Will my oral hygiene routine need to change once I’m diagnosed with a disease?
- Will my high blood sugar levels make it more difficult to heal from certain dental procedures, like a periodontal scaling or extraction?
Your Diabetes Wellness Team: Make Sure to Include Your Des Plaines Dentist, Dr. Meyer
According to the World Health Organization Type 2 diabetes is expected to become the seventh leading cause of death within the next decade. We don’t want our patients to be a part of those statistics and will continue doing all we can to educate them.
When our patients come into our dental office in Des Plaines they will receive tips on how to prevent gum disease and diabetes. If they already have diseases, we’ll do all we can to help our patients prevent the disease from progressing.
But we can’t do it all. Disease management and prevention is a team effort. We will do our part, but our patients need to follow through, too. It is our belief that with teamwork and dedication, we can help save our community from the devastating effects of periodontal disease and diabetes.
Would you like more information about how to prevent disease? We welcome you to schedule a consultation. Together, we can keep you and your family on the path of wellness.