Diabetes and Dental Care

What your dentist should do.

Charles W Martin By Charles W Martin, DDS
Founder, DentistryForDiabetics.com

Do you know what to expect when you visit your dentist? Do you know what you should ask about and what kinds of tests you should discuss with your dentist? Do you know what you can do as a dental patient to make sure that your diabetes and dental care are properly managed together?

Those are all important questions. And you do need a dentist who will pay special attention to your dental and health needs. One thing you should discuss is a complete dental physical – it may be something you need, or it may not. That will depend on your periodontal problems, but it's something you should ask about when you talk with your dentist about your dental care.

Sometimes your dentist will suggest more extensive dental treatment after a complete dental physical. This is something that very few patients volunteer for and, frankly, most are a little wary of such treatment. Many of the treatments sound scary, so as part of your discussions with your dentist, ask him or her to tell you about the types of treatments that can help reduce the bacteria in your mouth and help you start to heal your gum disease. Your dentist will tell you when such treatments are appropriate.

One effective treatment for gum disease is scaling and root planing, especially if your gum disease is not severe. What scaling and root planing involves is cleaning between the gums and teeth to the roots. It's usually done under local anesthetic and now it can be done with ultrasonics rather than a scraping tool. Despite the name, scaling and planing causes little or no discomfort.

You may also want to talk to your dentist about the latest in new laser treatments that are being used in treating gum disease and reducing bacteria in the mouth.

To properly merge your diabetes and dental care, it's important to ask your doctor and your dentist to work together as a team. I suggest that my patients envision an equilateral triangle. At the top of the triangle is you, the patient, because it's your health that we're concerned with. Your dentist and your physician are the other points in the triangle and you're all connected because your oral health and your physical health are so closely linked, especially when it comes to managing your diabetes.

It's a team effort between you, your dentist, and your physician. That's why there's no better time to start than right now, right after you read this column. Call your dentist and make an appointment to talk about forming a dental health team that includes your dentist and your physician. And talk to your physician about collaboration between the three of you. It's the only way to get the best smile you can have!

For more information about diabetes and dental care, visit http://www.dentistryfordiabetics.com and Dr. Martin's blog, http://www.dentistryfordiabetics.com/blog.

This article was excerpted from Dr. Martin's new book about the two-way connections between diabetes and gum disease.

Read Dr. Charles Martin's bio here.

Read more of Dr. Martin's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition. 

Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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