Medically Compromised Patients

Diabetes and Oral Health

As diabetics are often more susceptible to infections, they are more likely to have periodontal disease than non-diabetics. Periodontal disease, or severe gum and bone disease, is often considered one of the major complications of diabetes.

People with diabetes are more prone to developing gum disease, this new research implies that chronic gum disease may be a risk factor for diabetes. Gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and activate cells that produce inflammatory biological signals that have a destructive effect throughout the body. In the pancreas, the cells responsible for insulin (blood sugar) can be damaged or destroyed. Once this happens, it may trigger Type II diabetes – even in a healthy individual with no other risk factors for diabetes.

It is therefore highly recommended diabetics schedule check-up appointments every three months, so we can continually monitor your oral health.

Smoking and your oral health

Oral cancer accounts for approximately 3% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. In the early stage, mouth cancers are difficult to diagnose without high definition radiographs and regular check up appointments. Oral cancers can thus grow unnoticed for some time.

Oral cancers can develop in all areas of the mouth including the throat, tongue, lips and salivary glands as well areas in the neck and head.

As well as teeth staining, smokers are more susceptible to gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums causing them to bleed when you brush and floss. When left untreated, chronic gingivitis leads to periodontal (gum) disease, a degenerative condition of the gum and supporting bone and is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.

Smoking can often make you unsuitable for restorative procedures such as dental implants because smoking reduces oxygen saturation in the bloodstream impeding the healing of gum tissue while gum disease causes a reduction in jawbone volume, making the jaw unable to support the implant and absorb the extreme biting and chewing forces placed on teeth while eating.

Some oral health conditions that can result from smoking include:

  • the increase in plaque and tartar build-up;
  • constant bad breath;
  • gum disease resulting in tooth loss;
  • an increased risk of cavities;
  • leukoplakia, a white, scaly patch of skin inside your mouth or on your lips;
  • cancerous and precancerous lesions in your mouth that can be difficult to detect without regular X-rays and examinations;
  • swelling or lumps in your mouth, neck, lips or on your tongue;
  • numbness or pain in your mouth or throat without any apparent causes; and
  • difficulty chewing and swallowing foods.

In addition to the many benefits to your general health, quitting smoking will improve your oral health, as well as significantly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.

Pregnancy

One of the most exciting times in your life is when you are expecting your baby. It is also a time when your health is paramount. As your pregnancy evolves, your body is constantly changing to accommodate your child’s needs. Although you may not be aware of any noticeable changes, your teeth and gums are also affected by your pregnancy.

Approximately half the number of pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis, which can uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness of the gum tissue. Consequently, periodontal disease may develop and affect the health of your baby.

Ongoing research studies have demonstrated a correlation between periodontal disease and pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Several studies have indicated pregnant women with periodontal disease may be up to seven times more likely to have a baby pre-term and with a low birth-weight. One possible explanation is a chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin, which can induce labour. Very high levels of prostaglandin have been diagnosed in women with severe cases of periodontal disease.

If you have periodontal disease during pregnancy, Dr Steven Du may recommend a common non-surgical dental procedure known as scaling and root planing. These procedures are very safe, whereby the tooth’s root surfaces are cleaned of plaque and tartar.

Research results indicate that scaling and root planing reduces the risk of preterm births in pregnant women with periodontal disease. The bonus is that the procedure alleviates many of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with pregnancy gingivitis, including swelling, redness and gum tenderness.

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