Diabetes and Your Mouth

Every 17 seconds someone new is diagnosed with diabetes, a disease that is now one of the leading causes of death and disability in this country. November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and Dr. Hawkins wants to educate all Midlothian residents on what they can do to prevent and treat this debilitating disease.

What is diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. There are three main kinds of diabetes:
•    Type 1: which is normally diagnosed in childhood
•    Type 2: the most common form, which usually occurs as an adult
•    Gestational: this affects some women during pregnancy

Myth: Diabetes isn’t serious.
Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. This terrifying statistic, is just one of many that can show how serious diabetes can be.

Diabetes is one of the most significant health challenges in the United States, affecting more than 16 million people with 800,000 new cases diagnosed each year. People who have diabetes know that it affects their life in innumerable ways, but many overlook the importance of their mouth in monitoring their condition.

Diabetes and Your Mouth
The increased presence of glucose caused by diabetes helps bacteria build up on teeth, leading to many problems, including tooth decay, fungal infections, dry mouth, and mouth ulcers. This environment can also change the way the teeth come together in your mouth and Dr. Hawkins wants diabetics to remember that the disease often causes periodontal disease.

Studies estimate that one third of people with diabetes have the most severe form of periodontal disease, and upwards of three quarters have a lesser form of the disease. More concerning is the National Health Interview Survey that showed less than half of all diabetics had visited a dentist in the past year, a much smaller percentage than that of non-diabetics.

Gum Disease Treatment
If you have periodontal disease, Dr. Hawkins may be able to help make your mouth healthier with a new treatment called LANAP therapy. This technology uses lasers to treat the gum infection without the need for traditional scalpel surgery, allowing for significantly reduced healing time and dramatically healthy results. LANAP can be especially important to patients with diabetes, and their body’s lowered resistance to infections and longer healing time.

Dr. Hawkins may be able to do blood tests to help you monitor the state of your diabetes, especially if you have had a hard time doing so yourself.

Diabetes Resources
Tests available in Hawkins Family Dentistry such as the Diabetes Risk Assessment are able to determine your chances of developing diabetes for a much lower cost than those in typical doctor’s offices.

For a quick assessment, try the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Risk Test.

Also, be sure to check out our next blog post about the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease.

Dr. Alex Hawkins is a general dentist and cosmetic dentist in Midlothian VA. Does your dentist guarantee their work… for life? Why not? At Hawkins Family Dentistry, we provide an unmatched written lifetime guarantee available to anyone.

Posted in Diabetes, News from Hawkins Family Dentistry

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