Diabetes and oral health are intimately related. Poorly managed diabetes can result in advancement of periodontal disease and oral infection. Similarly, poor oral hygiene with moderate to advanced periodontal disease or a tooth abscess can cause blood glucose levels to spiral out of control.
The Medical and Dental departments at FDL have collaborated in an effort to reduce diabetic patients’ A1c levels by addressing periodontal disease, reducing inflammation, and eliminating infections in their oral cavity. Our efforts include scheduling the patient more frequently for cleanings, giving them priority scheduling for their restorative needs, spending more time educating them, and providing tools to aid in practicing better home care. We are also working with the Smoking Cessation Program, discussing activity levels to reinforce the importance of regular exercise, and communicating our findings to the doctors and staff in the Diabetic Program. Incentives for this program include a Sonicare electric toothbrush, and are offered for participation and completion of the year long program.
Hypertension is an asymptomatic medical condition that can go undiagnosed. Even when a formal diagnosis is made, it can be difficult to control because patients do not feel the elevation in blood pressure. If left untreated or if poorly treated, hypertension can lead to heart attack or stroke. Long term, hypertension can cause damage to the retina of the eyes or lead to kidney failure. Dental procedures and local anesthetic administration can increase a patient’s blood pressure, which can be dangerous if the blood pressure is already elevated.
The dental clinic and the medical clinic are working together to screen patient’s for high blood pressure and help patient’s to better manage blood pressure. In the dental clinic, blood pressure is taken at every appointment for patient’s 18 and older, and patient’s are referred to the medical clinic to see a physician if their blood pressure is not well controlled.
The goal is to identify every patient with undiagnosed or poorly controlled hypertension in the dental clinic. Since implementing this policy, we have been extremely successful at helping patient’s to better understand and control hypertension.
Many people take multiple medications to treat a large variety of conditions. Some medications are obtained over-the-counter, some are prescribed by medical professionals, and others are considered natural medicines or remedies. It is important for you as a patient to understand your list of medications, and especially to know what each medication is used for. By keeping a complete list, you can not only better manage your medications and medical conditions in your daily life, but you can also provide very important information to your doctors, pharmacists, and dentists so that we can keep you safe and avoid potential problems at each appointment.
Dentists use your medical history and medication information, along with your dental exam findings, to assess your needs and recommend the best treatment approach. Many conditions and medications can have effects on your mouth, teeth, and gums. For example, some medications cause dry mouth, which can increase risk of tooth decay. Additionally, other medications may cause the dentist to alter his or her anesthetic approach to ensure safety.
For these reasons, make sure to also update your dentist and hygienist at each visit if there has been a change in your medical history or medication list. Depending on these changes, different approaches to treatment might be recommended.