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Regular Check-Ups Help Detect Diabetes
Nov 24, 2010
Delta Dental reminder: regular dental checkups can help detect diabetes and stave off periodontal disease
San Francisco (November 18, 2010) — Within the next four decades, the number of Americans with undiagnosed diabetes will more than triple, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s why a group of Delta Dental companies reminds people during American Diabetes Month® this November that regular visits to the dentist can help alert patients when they are at risk for the disease.
“Research has shown a connection between periodontal (gum) disease and diabetes,” said John Yamamoto, DDS, vice president of Professional Services for Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental Insurance Company and their affiliates. “People with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease. In addition, recent studies have shown that periodontal disease may be associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes. Periodontal disease may also make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar, placing them at greater risk for other diabetic complications.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, 23.6 million American adults and children currently have diabetes. Of those, 5.7 million do not know that they have the disease. Of even greater concern is that nearly three times that number – an estimated 57 million people – have a condition called pre-diabetes, and a significant proportion of these people will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years.
“Regular checkups by a dentist, good oral hygiene and treatment of any periodontal disease are especially important for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics, as well as for those with pre-diabetes,” added Yamamoto.
The connection between diabetes and oral health is just one example of the relationship between oral health and overall wellness. It also underscores the important role that dental care providers can take in early detection of serious systemic diseases.
Yamamoto noted that even if you take good care of your teeth, regular checkups should always be part of your calendar for several reasons:
- Dental professionals can use today’s 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. Dental professionals performing checkups can spot signs that could indicate serious health problems elsewhere in the body that need attention.
- Checkups 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 proactively counter the negative effects the conditions and treatments would otherwise have on your oral health.
- Preventive checkups provide dentists with opportunities to identify and intervene early in dental diseases. This can help reduce pain as well as the costs associated with more severe forms of dental diseases. If caught early, periodontal disease is easier to manage and, in some cases, it is reversible.
Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental of New York, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania and several other Delta Dental companies under common management, collectively provide dental benefits plans to nearly 25 million people in 15 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. All are part of the Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA), based in Oak Brook, Ill., which consists of 39 Delta Dental member companies licensed in all 50 states. The association collectively covers 54 million of the 165 million people nationwide with private dental insurance, making it by far the largest national system of dental plans.