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Dental Care for Diabetics: A Quick Guide for Dental Assistant Students

June 17, 2015

Most people know that diabetes mellitus (commonly known as diabetes) refers to the metabolic condition of having above average blood sugar levels. This disease is generally a result of the body’s failure to utilize ingested glucose properly.

Most individuals suffering from diabetes are aware that the disease can actually cause harm to multiple areas of the body including the eyes, nerves, kidneys, the heart and more. However, what many people do not know is that diabetes can cause serious oral health problems as well. In fact, dental assistant professionals know that those with diabetes actually have a high risk of developing periodontal disease. Read on to learn more about periodontal disease and how dental assistants advise patients with diabetes to care for their teeth.

Understanding Periodontal Disease as a Dental Assistant

Industry experts know that periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. At its worst stages, this infection can result in tooth loss as well as an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

While those with diabetes have a higher risk of getting periodontal disease than those without diabetes, periodontal disease can be caused by a combination of issues, like hormonal changes, smoking, poor oral hygiene and a family history of dental disease.

Dental Assistants Know That Constant Brushing and Flossing is Essential

Professionals with dental assistant training know that while everyone should be thoroughly cleaning their teeth regularly, doing so is absolutely crucial for diabetics. In fact, dental pros recommend that anyone with diabetes brush and floss their teeth after every meal or snack. However, if this is not possible (due to commitments like work or school), then twice each day will suffice. Cleaning the teeth will protect them from acid as well as the formation of plaque.

Students enrolled in dental assistant courses know that the beginning stages of gum disease rarely have any signs or symptoms. The disease can actually reach a very advanced stage before a patient begins to feel pain or notice any bleeding. That’s why preventative measures are a patient’s safest bet against any dental health issues.

Treating a Diabetic as a Dental Professional

Graduates of dental assistant college know that people living with diabetes can be treated using the same cleaning and treatment methods as those who do not have the disease. Of course, there are a few precautions that should be taken. During a cleaning, certified dental assistants typically remove all deposits that have formed between the teeth and under the gums. Since a diabetic patient’s gums may be sensitive, dental experts might be required to freeze the patient’s mouth to eliminate pain.

If a diabetic patient is required to take insulin, both dental assistants and dentists should confirm with the patient that he or she has in fact taken it before having any dental procedures done. During the appointment, dental professionals should watch the patient closely to ensure that there are no signs of an insulin reaction.

Are you interested in learning more about the dental industry? Find out more about the Dental Assistant Program offered at NAHB.

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