Thursday, November 13, 2014

Diabetes Awareness Month

Happy National Diabetes Awareness month.  I bet you thought this was the holiday season, but in the medical world illness and disease know no seasons.  Therefore, November is Diabetes awareness month.  You may be wondering why a dentist would be blogging about type II diabetes.  Well, in my case there are two reasons.  First, I was diagnosed with type II diabetes about a year and half ago (more about that in my next blog) and second, there are substantial aspects of diabetes that affect dentistry and often the dentist is the first medical care provider to recognize diabetes symptoms with their patients.  There are two reasons for this.   First, unfortunately, as a group we are often lax at getting regular medical testing accomplished. I am speaking primarily to the men of course!  And second, more than half of the population visits the dentist at least annually therefore, we have a better chance to observe the early manifestations of diabetes.

And what is it that we see.  First, the sudden dry mouth issue that is manifested with the decreased salivary flow and more aggressive decay beyond which you would normally expect.  Second, due to the decrease in blood supply caused by the diabetes an increase in periodontal disease starts generally with gingival swelling (gingivitis) and progresses to tissue and bone loss, tooth mobility and eventual loss of teeth (periodontitis).  That loss rate can be up to 5 times greater than a non-diabetic patient.  From my own experiences do not take these early symptoms too lightly or ignore a referral to your physician for testing.  Type II diabetes is a management issue and it can be controlled with some effort. If not controlled, it can lead to blindness, loss of limbs, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and obviously potentially death. 
Since I don’t really want to lose any patients, if we recommend a fasting blood sugar test with your physician just do it (the men again of course).

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