Dental Exam/Diabetes Connection
Studies have suggested that one-third of diabetics or pre-diabetes are unknowingly walking around with the disease. Research conducted at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine have shown that dentists can serve a vital role in helping manage the nation's struggle with the epidemic.
The study analyzed the oral health condition of around 600 group participants. Test subjects were comprised of non-Hispanic or whites 40-years-old or older and Hispanic or non-white 30-years-old or older. All group participants had no prior diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Of those subjects, the 530 individuals who reported having high-risk diabetic factors such as family history of the disease, obesity, high cholesterol or hypertension were given both a periodontal exam and "...a fingerstick, point-of-care hemoglobin A1c test," (http://www.dental-tribune.com/articles/content/scope/news/region/usa/id/5265). In order to properly evaluate the results of that test subjects were also required to undergo a fasting plasma glucose test to determine if they were pre-diabetic or diabetic.
Within that faction of study participants, researchers determined that by comparing the number of missing teeth with the percentage of deep periodontal pockets dentists could easily determine patients with previously unrecognized pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Dental Care and Diabetes
In regards to oral health, the constant changes in blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause dental problems including dry mouth, gingivitis, periodontitis, slow tissue healing, burning mouth syndrome and oral thrush. The diabetes/dental health connection is strong as when an individual has any type of infection the body produces cytokines protein in defense. The additional protein production will increase insulin resistance and make it extremely difficult to control blood sugars and can hinder the body's natural healing abilities in regards to gum disease. Overall, gum disease can negatively affect diabetes creating a vicious cycle of declining health.
Regardless of health everyone can benefit from dental care including brushing, flossing and regular dental visits. However for diabetics or those having earliest stages of the condition, dental hygiene is vital to survival. Diabetics are advised to quit smoking as that habit can make the odds of developing dental problems 20 times greater (http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-dental-care-diabetes). Additionally, denture wearing diabetics must clean them daily to lower the odds of developing any of the aforementioned conditions.
If you are suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes 1-800-DENTIST can help you find a dentist well skilled at managing your medical condition. Once a dental appointment is scheduled, diabetic dental patients must share their medical status with their dentist and provide their dental care provider with the contact information of their diabetes doctor, just in case. As always, managing blood sugar levels is the key to controlling diabetes.