Diabetes and Your Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 11/14/2017 2:11 PM

November is Diabetes Awareness Month to bring attention to the disease and the millions of people affected by it. We’d like to join this effort from the perspective of your oral health. Frequently, we emphasize the connection between oral health and overall health. And that connection can work both ways. A person with diabetes is an example of this connection. If you have diabetes, you’re at a higher risk of developing gum disease. And, according to the American Diabetes Association, research suggests “serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.” What’s the connection? To be clear, diabetes doesn’t cause gum disease and gum disease doesn’t cause diabetes. But if you have one, you are likely to have the other, in comparison to others who don’t have diabetes or gum disease. To explain a bit further, if you have diabetes, your ability to fight infection is reduced. Gum disease is a type of infection in your gums and the surrounding bones supporting your teeth. Gum disease is also referred to as periodontal disease. Early gum disease, called gingivitis, has symptoms like red, swollen and bleeding gums. In the early stages, gingivitis can be reversible with daily brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. When the condition reaches the later stage, called periodontitis, your gums are seriously damaged.  Talk With Your Dentist To prevent gum disease, practice good oral health care. If you have diabetes, since you’re at higher risk of developing gum disease, paying close attention to your teeth and mouth and maintaining a good oral health care routine is extremely important. Managing your diabetes will also help. According to studies, people who manage their diabetes tend to have less gum disease than people who are not managing their disease well. Talk with your dentist to discuss a plan going forward. Enhanced Benefits Also, if you have diabetes or gum disease you may be eligible for enhanced benefits through your Delta Dental plan, like extra cleanings and exams. Confirm your eligibility before treatment by contacting us directly or talking with your dental care provider. You may have to sign up for the enhanced benefits program before receiving the extra coverage. You can learn more about the symptoms diabetes can create in your mouth by visiting the American Dental Association website. Learn more about diabetes and Diabetes Awareness Month by visiting the American Diabetes Association website.

What Your Tongue Can Say About Your Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 11/9/2017 4:33 PM

Even though you focus on keeping your teeth and gums healthy, oral health includes another part of your mouth – your tongue. And your tongue can be an indicator of your oral and overall health. Maybe you don’t pay too much attention to your tongue until you bite it or burn it by accident. Ouch! And we’ve mentioned including your tongue when you brush twice a day for at least two minutes. But other than that, this very important part of your mouth might not get noticed or discussed. Delta Dental Plans Association shared some information about the color, texture and patterns on your tongue that might indicate something about your oral and overall health. With this information, you can be more aware of your tongue and its many possible characteristics. White coating – If you have dry mouth or bad oral hygiene, your tongue may appear white. The white color is the result of papillae, the tiny bumps on the surface of your tongue, becoming overgrown with a buildup of bacteria and debris from food. Black or brown – If you smoke, your tongue could turn a black or brown tint if the overgrown papillae get stained. They could also become stained by food, drinks or medications. This dark discoloration condition even has a name – black hairy tongue. (Terrible, I know!) This condition can also be a result of poor oral hygiene, dry mouth or use of certain medications. But it can go away with good oral hygiene and by getting rid of any of the causes like tobacco use. White patches on your tongue can be attributed to the overgrowth of yeast in your mouth, a condition called “thrush” or “candidiasis.” Those most prone to this condition include newborns, pregnant women, elderly people, dry mouth sufferers, people who wear dentures, individuals on antibiotics, people with weak immune systems and those with certain health conditions like diabetes. The usual treatment is anti-fungal medication. White lacy pattern – If you see this pattern on your tongue or inner cheeks, it may be a sign of something called oral lichen planus. This means your immune system is fighting the cells in your mouth. You may also see sore red patches. Yellow – A yellow tongue can be the early stages of the previously explained black or brown tongue. It could also indicate acid reflux or an infection. Pale and smooth – If your tongue is pale, you could have low iron, or a condition called anemia. “Strawberry” patterned – It’s called this because of the color and bumps on your tongue kind of look like a strawberry. If you notice your tongue is bumpy or swollen, it may be a sign of strep throat or an allergy, possibly to food or medicine you’re taking. There’s also a blood vessel disease called Kawasaki disease that the strawberry pattern could also be a sign of. Next time you’re brushing your teeth, take a look at your tongue in the mirror. How does it look? Most of these conditions can be fixed by practicing good oral hygiene, eating healthy foods, drinking more water or quitting any tobacco use. But sometimes the color of your tongue could indicate something more serious, like oral cancer or infections. Contact your dental care provider or physician if you notice one of the above colors or conditions and it doesn’t go away after a week or two. If you experience any soreness or pain, be sure to contact your dentist or doctor. A professional will be able to identify and diagnose any problems.

Focus on Preventive Care: The main difference between dental and medical coverage

by MikeMeehan 10/18/2017 4:39 PM

Cavities are almost 100% preventable. Let’s say that again – cavities are preventable. That means it’s within your power to avoid tooth decay. This is a great thing to remember when you’re considering skipping your dentist visit or going to bed without two minutes of brushing. It’s also one of the reasons dental benefits and medical benefits are designed differently. Preventive care is the focus One of the main differences between dental and medical coverage is the focus on preventive care. While you know healthy choices can decrease your chances of getting sick, medical insurance is used when you do get sick or have an injury. With dental benefits, preventive care is the focus. If you visit the dentist for exams, cleanings and X-rays, you can stop oral health problems before they start. Visiting your dental care provider twice a year for cleanings, which is part of your dental coverage, is preventive care. To promote preventive care, many benefit plans with cover all or most of the cost of routine dental cleanings and examinations. Preventive care in addition to your dental benefits includes practicing good oral health habits like brushing twice a day and flossing. Add all this together with smart food and lifestyle choices, and you’ve got yourself a healthy smile. To sum this up, we use medical benefits when we have a health issue, and we use our dental benefits to prevent dental issues. You can live a healthy life with exercise and a good diet, but you can still get sick. You can visit your dentist, brush your teeth and make good oral health choices and you can prevent oral health problems. Emergencies Another difference when comparing dental benefits and medical benefits is emergencies. Dental care emergencies are rare. Getting a tooth knocked out can require emergency care, but dental emergencies do not happen often especially compared to medical emergencies. Medical benefits reflect this difference in care, such as ER and urgent care facility coverage. Stop problems before they begin Dental benefits work to stop problems before they begin. If you work hard with your preventive care, like visiting the dentist routinely, that can help avoid bigger and more costly problems in the future, like cavities or gum disease. Despite the differences between medical and dental benefits, we believe oral health is a big part of your overall health. Study your dental plan to learn more about your coverage, and remember the power of prevention.

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