November is National Diabetes Month. What does this have to do with oral health? Everything. Research has shown there is an association between oral health and diabetes. It is called a bidirectional relationship, meaning that if you have diabetes you are at higher risk for gum disease. If you have uncontrolled gum disease it will affect your ability to control your diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to manage the sugar in the blood. One of the many effects is that diabetes increases the risk of inflammation in the body. Those who know they have diabetes know that they are more prone to infections. They must work harder to stay healthy and prevent things like cutting their face when shaving, cutting a finger, stubbing a toe, or other injuries that the person without diabetes would almost ignore.
Back to our first question: what does this have to do with oral health? We know the inflammatory effects uncontrolled diabetes has on the health of our gums and teeth. The dental hygienist will look closely at your gum health, measure pocket depth, look for bleeding gums, and identify reasons for this. We ask questions about your health, medications you take, recent doctor visits, and even surgeries you may not think have anything to do with your mouth. All of our body parts and systems work together.
Visit your dentist regularly for preventive dental hygiene care. If you cannot find your way to the dental office due to a disability or distance, find an RDHAP who can go to you and provide this important care.
If you are caring for the health of another, make sure they have regular dental and dental hygiene care. If you notice their breath smells, gums are red, and bleed easily, find a dentist or dental hygienist (RDHAP in California) who can visit the person. Dental professionals are commonly the first ones to recognize a person who has diabetes, recognizing the links between other health issues and their oral health.
Good oral care can save a life. Diabetes often does not hurt until late in the disease. Be proactive. Oral care is related to diabetic care.
Check out this short but sweet video to learn more!
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