The Diabetes Dentist
I often feel like instead of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, I should really rename my title to Diabetes Dentist. Diabetes is a chronic illness caused by too much glucose floating around in the blood stream causing mischief. Many of my patients know that Diabetes can affect their eyes, their kidneys, their hearts, and their feet, but not a lot know that it can wreak havoc on their teeth. In fact nine times out of ten I can look at a patient's x-ray and without seeing their medical history form, I can say for certain that they have diabetes and it is uncontrolled.
The majority of my patients with Diabetes have type 2 diabetes which is when there is both too much glucose in the blood stream and not enough of the insulin that normally drives the glucose across the cell membrane where it can be used as energy. The thing about people and bacteria is that we both LOVE sugar. And nobody loves sugar more than the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth and in between your teeth. They gorge themselves on all that free floating sweet stuff and make a mess in there. That mess is highly acidic and corrodes teeth leading to cavities; inflames the gums, leading to gingivitis; and destroys bone leading to periodontal disease. When I look at an x-ray and see massive destruction to the underlying bone, I know that without a drastic change to both their physical and oral health, that patient will inevitably lose ALL of their teeth.
While I enjoy extracting teeth, I don't enjoy patient suffering. Unfortunately the cruelty of losing your teeth to Diabetes is that it forces the patient to maintain a soft diet and that diet is usually one that is high in carbohydrates and processed sugar and frequently exacerbates the Diabetes making it THAT MUCH harder to control! Now all is not lost. My mother read THIS book and with some clever meal planning was able to get my father OFF of his Diabetes medications for good, saving his oral health and his life. Additionally, tight control of Diabetes with a strict diet and good adherence to medications as well as multiple visits to the dentist for maintenance and deep cleanings can save teeth and keep patients away from Dr. Edna Buckle: Diabetes Dentist and tooth puller extraordinaire. Take care, and be well. I care about you.