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.

Enhanced Benefits for Improved Oral Health

by MikeMeehan 10/31/2017 1:54 PM

At Delta Dental, we emphasize the connection between your oral health and overall health. We know that maintaining your oral health will provide benefits to your entire health. And because of this connection, if you have a specific health condition, additional oral health care can be beneficial. So we, at Delta Dental, offer enhanced benefits. Our enhanced benefits program, called Healthy Smiles, Healthy Lives®, covers extra cleanings and exams for members with certain health conditions. You may be eligible to receive this extra care for little or no increase in your dental premium. And the extra care will improve not only your oral health, but your overall health. Check your current plan to confirm your eligibility or if you’d like to enroll, visit our website, or talk with your dentist. The program benefits are based on your dental plan and your medical condition. The benefits may include additional cleanings, periodontal maintenance and fluoride treatments. Here are some examples of conditions that may be eligible for the enhanced benefits program, as listed by the Delta Dental Plans Association: Cancer-related chemotherapy or radiation treatments. While under these treatments, you may have a weakened immune system and dry mouth. This can put you at increased risk for cavities and gum infection. Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are more susceptible to periodontal disease. Extra cleanings may help improve your periodontal health. Periodontal (gum) disease. You may prevent tooth loss that can result from periodontal disease  with more frequent visits and additional dental care. Cardiovascular diseases or stroke. If you have cardiovascular disease, you share many of the risk factors with those who have gum disease.  Kidney failure or dialysis. If you have kidney disease, additional preventive care may help you decrease dental infections, which can be harmful to your kidney functions. Pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, hormonal changes can make your mouth more vulnerable to bacteria and developing gum problems. Good preventive care and extra cleanings can help avoid those issues. Suppressed immune systems. More oral exams and cleanings may help you if you have a weakened immune system, including if you have HIV or if you have received an organ transplant. These extra cleanings can help you avoid mouth infections and improve your quality of life. Again, please be sure to confirm your eligibility before treatment by contacting us directly or asking your dentist to contact us. You may have to sign up for the enhanced benefits program before receiving the extra coverage.  

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