November 28, 2014

Lessons for People New to Type 2 Diabetes, Part 10

I had wanted to end this series, but my friends said not yet and emailed me this topic and more. It is about dental care when you have diabetes. Yes, this is too often put on the back burner and forgotten until it is too late. By the same token, do not let the dentist rule when something needs to be done. I did and as a result, I will need oral surgery to remove teeth that have broken. I had asked to have all my teeth pulled because many were partially cracked and dead and I could see this because the inside of them was very dark. The dentist would only let them remove a few of them.

They always insist on keeping any tooth they feel is still available and usable and not causing problems. Now I will need to pay more to have oral surgery thanks to the “wisdom” of the dentist. Then I will still have the cost of the dentures. I cannot blame diabetes because I know many of the teeth were killed in an auto accident back in 1999. It was just that it took several years for the full effects to take place. I am fortunate because with the shattered teeth, I have not had any pain or problems when parts of them come out.

Some of the things to be careful about include:

4 Signs You May Have a Problem - Diabetes puts you at risk for dental problems. It impairs the ability to fight bacteria in your mouth. Having high blood sugar encourages bacteria to grow and contributes to gum disease. You may have gum disease if you have:
  1. Gums that are red, sore, bleeding, or swollen, or that pull away from your teeth
  2. Loose teeth
  3. Chronic bad breath
  4. An irregular bite or dentures that don't fit well

Control Diabetes to Keep Your Smile Well-controlled diabetes contributes to a healthy mouth. If you have poorly controlled or high blood sugar, your risk increases for dry mouth, gum disease, tooth loss, and fungal infections like thrush. Since infections can also make blood sugar rise, your diabetes may become even harder to control. Keeping your mouth healthy can help you manage your blood sugar. Unmanaged diabetes will not help you keep your smile.

Have a good discussion with your dentist and make sure that the dentist knows you have diabetes and provide a list of your current medications. Many dentists will urge check-ups two times per year.

Keep your eyesight There are many other things you need to do after your diagnosis of diabetes. It is strongly urged that you have an eye examination to determine if you have any damage to your eyes. This will establish a baseline for future eye exams and the eye doctor should be looking for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. A good ophthalmologist will check for other problems as well.

If you wear glasses, do not let anyone convince you to get new glasses immediately after diagnosis. If you have or have had blurry vision, wait up to six months until your blood glucose is managed and your eyesight has settled down. Most eye doctors will understand and agree. If you then need new glasses, get them. Your eyesight is worth it. Then every year schedule another exam. Once your eye doctor knows you have diabetes, he or she will insist, and rightly so, that you have an annual eye exam.

Don't forget your hearing On your hearing, the evidence is still conflicting. I know in my case, I had lost some hearing while I was in the military and so when the hearing doctor said the numbers, they agreed with the numbers from when I was discharged, just a slightly higher loss. I still have a hearing exam every three years, but some have the exam every year and others every five years.

The reason for having a hearing exam is that the small blood vessels in your inner ear can be damaged by continuous high blood glucose levels. That is why the exams are important. They are even more important if your diabetes is unmanaged.

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