I know this isn’t the usual topic for a plastic surgeon, but I have two Type II Diabetics in my immediate family. My mother and one of my brothers. My brother leapt to my thoughts when I first saw this article in the Dec 3 issue of JAMA (full reference below). He has poor dentition due to many things: diabetes, use of oral tobacco products, and avoidance of dentists. I have tried to get him to see the dentist more regularly, but he has a fear of them like many of us. I don’t think this article will change things with him, but I wish his doctor could use it to get him to see the dentist. Perhaps his diabetes would be easier to manage and his overall health would be better. (photo credit)
Physicians and dentists have long known that the health of an individual's mouth can have significant effects on the health of the rest of the body. The link between periodontal disease and heart disease is one of the most commonly known associations, but researchers are finding many more medical reasons to maintain good oral hygiene.
Diabetes, the focus of much attention lately due to its rising incidence, appears to have a particularly close relationship with conditions within the oral cavity. This relationship seems to go both ways—diabetes can lead to unwanted changes in the gums and periodontal tissues, and periodontal diseases—including gingivitis and severe periodontitis—can make it more difficult to control diabetes……….
Oral Health Problems Linked to Diabetes
Patients with inadequate blood glucose control appear to develop periodontal disease more often and more severely, and they lose more teeth than individuals who have good control of their diabetes. According to the American Dental Association, the most common oral health problems associated with diabetes are the following:
- tooth decay
- periodontal disease
- salivary gland dysfunction
- fungal infections
- lichen planus and lichenoid reactions (inflammatory skin disease)
- infection and delayed healing
- taste impairment
Physicians can play a role in encouraging patients' oral health by recommending good maintenance of blood glucose levels, a well-balanced diet, good oral care at home, and regular dental checkups. When glycemia has been difficult to control, a physician might consider asking patients when they last saw their dentist and whether periodontitis has been diagnosed.
Studies Probe Oral Health – Diabetes Link; JAMA Vol 300, No 21, pp 2471-2473; Tracy Hampton PhD (Medical News & Perspectives section)