According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million American adults and children have diabetes. Of those, 5.7 million don’t even know that they have it. Of even greater concern is that nearly three times that number—an estimated 57 million people—have a condition called prediabetes. A significant proportion of these people will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.
During American Diabetes Month, it’s important to remember that regular visits to the dentist can help potential diabetics get an early warning. Evidence is emerging that periodontal (gum) disease is associated with increased risk for diabetes complications and may be associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes.
The connection between diabetes and oral health is just one example of the relationship between an individual’s oral health and his or her overall wellness. It also underscores the important role that oral health care providers can have in early detection of serious systemic diseases.
There are numerous reasons to keep regular check-ups on your calendar, even if you take good care of your teeth.
Dental professionals can use routine dental exams to screen for oral cancers and other health issues that can be difficult to spot on your own. More than 120 diseases can cause specific signs and symptoms in and around the mouth and jaw.
Check-ups allow your dentist to keep up with changes to your health status. Upon learning of medical conditions you’ve developed or treatments you’re receiving, your dentist can recommend strategies to help you counter the negative effects the conditions and treatments might have on your oral health.
Preventive check-ups provide dentists with opportunities to identify and intervene early in dental diseases. This can reduce any pain and financial costs associated with more severe forms of dental diseases. If caught early, periodontal disease is easier to manage and, in some cases, reverse.
So remember, brushing your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly doesn’t only make you look good; it keeps you feeling good, too!