The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is becoming increasingly better understood. Periodontal disease (involving the gums and other structures surrounding and supporting the teeth) is known to be a very common complication of diabetes. As compared to people without diabetes, those with it are more likely to develop infection and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) or the tissue around the teeth (periodontitis), which often causes shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth. Periodontitis may make it harder to control blood glucose levels and, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and premature death. Typically people with periodontitis may be unaware that they have it. Early detection and treatment of periodontal disease play important roles in the improvement in one’s overall health by lowering the risk for complications and enhancing their physical and emotional well-being.
Effective diabetes management and oral health are impossible to attain without self-management skills. With patient education and ongoing self-management support, patients can learn the importance of oral health and necessary skills, such as the most effective way to brush their teeth and use dental floss. To achieve sustainable and measurable outcomes, the Center’s RDHAP provides patients with the necessary knowledge and self-efficacy to perform these skills and incorporate them into their oral health routine.
In WDI’s Center for Periodontal Health, a Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice (RDHAP http://cdha.org/rdhap) performs a periodontal screen in all people referred for a “one-stop” cross-disciplinary evaluation. Patients found to have disease are, as part of a comprehensive and personalized care plan, offered periodontal treatment in the Center or connected to their family dentist.
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