Delta Dental reminder: Diabetics at high risk of developing periodontal disease

November 12, 2013

San Francisco – If you are diabetic, your next dental visit could help prevent another serious health problem.

During National Diabetes Month this November, Delta Dental of California and its affiliated companies remind people that those with diabetes are at greater risk for developing periodontal (gum) disease earlier in life, and more severely.1 And everyone should be mindful of the warning signs of gum disease, which include bad breath, bleeding gums after brushing or flossing, red, swollen or tender gums or changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite.

Unfortunately, many people ignore those periodontal red flags until it’s too late.2

“Individuals often ignore the warning signs of periodontal disease because there is usually no pain involved,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president for dental science and policy. “So they will brush a little better to get rid of the bleeding or use mouthwash to hide their bad breath. The best idea is to schedule regular visits to your dentist to make sure that you are not developing periodontal disease.”

Maintaining regular dental visits is particularly critical for patients suffering from diabetes. Oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease are often reversible if they are diagnosed and treated early. Dentists can also check for other common mouth conditions that afflict people with diabetes such as dry mouth, ulcers and infections.

Periodontal disease and other mouth conditions may also be a sign that other medical conditions exist elsewhere in the body. Depending on their findings, the dentist might advise patients to seek a medical consultation. Additional lifestyle “best practices” for people with diabetes include diet and exercise to help control blood sugar, brushing and flossing daily, and quitting smoking.

“These are healthy habits that benefit everyone, regardless of whether they have diabetes,” said John Yamamoto, DDS, vice president of Professional Services for Delta Dental of California and affiliated companies.

Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania and their affiliated companies under common management provide dental benefits to more than 26 million people in 15 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. All are part of the Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA), based in Oak Brook, Ill.

1 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Diabetes and Oral Health. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/Diabetes/default.htm

2 American Diabetes Association. 2013 Diabetes Facts.  http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics

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