Certain medical conditions, treatments or medication can directly affect your mouth and how we treat you.
At the McInerney Dental Practice we will ask you for information about your general health to help us treat you safely in the most appropriate way. We will take your medical history into account when formulating treatment plans and when carrying out these treatments. All the information you give us will be kept strictly confidential.
Good oral health is now recognised to be necessary for complete overall health. Recent understanding now points to periodontal (gum) disease as an additional, independent risk factor for conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease and stroke. The connections between periodontal disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease are also being explored.
In addition oral health can have a significant impact upon quality of life. Poor oral health can influence dietary choices leading to nutritional deficiencies – a good, varied diet is important in maintaining health. Oral health is also central to communication and confidence.
McInerney Dental Practice is committed to supporting patients with diabetes. The effect of high blood sugars (hyperglycaemia) often leads to an increased susceptibility to diseases of the mouth such as gum (periodontal) diseases, dry mouth (xerostomia), dental decay, dental abscesses and oral thrush (candidiasis). This increased susceptibility has potential consequences which need to be recognised and addressed. If you would like to read more please click here.
At McInerney Dental Practice we have increased knowledge of diabetes care and aim to treat our patients holistically taking into account your medical status. We work closely with a hospital based diabetes care team and will be holding joint dental health/diabetes care clinics. A Diabetes Nurse Specialist will be available for personal advice about your diabetes care. We will also hold open evenings with a special emphasis upon combined dental/diabetes care. If you have diabetes, are worried about developing diabetes or know someone with diabetes and would like to know more about it in relation to your oral health, please contact us for more information.
Many diseases and conditions can affect the mouth and the dental team is ideally placed to lookout for them. The health of your mouth can also have an effect on other diseases, and it is now well recognised that good oral health is necessary for complete overall health.
Research has shown that there are links between inflammation in the mouth and other diseases such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease and stroke. The connections between periodontal disease (gum disease), osteoporosis, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease are being explored. It is likely that over the next few years, as more research is carried out further links will be discovered. One problem is that inflammation in the mouth often persists without people realising it.
In addition, oral health can have a significant impact upon the quality of life. Poor oral health can influence dietary choices leading to nutritional deficiencies – a good varied diet is important in maintaining health. Oral health is also central to communication and confidence.
Dental medicine is the study of the interaction between the mouth and general health and our aim is to ensure that our patients have healthy mouths that contribute to good general health.
Inflammation in the mouth will increase the risk of developing diabetes, or make it harder to control your blood sugar levels if you already have diabetes. Having diabetes will also increase the risk of inflammation in the mouth. High blood sugars can increase the risk of developing gum (periodontal) disease, dry mouth, dental decay, dental abscesses, oral thrush and can delay wound healing.
For a person with diabetes, the risk of developing periodontal disease is approximately three times that of a person without diabetes.
The good news is that treatment of periodontal disease can have a beneficial effect upon the control of blood sugar levels which has major benefits for both dental and general health.
For more information on diabetes and dentistry, please click here.
Heart Disease & Stroke
There is strong evidence that inflammation in the mouth, in particular from gum disease, can increase the risk of someone getting heart disease. People with gum disease are three times as likely to have a heart attack as those without gum disease. The effects of a dental infection after heart surgery are so significant that it is routine for patients to have a dental examination and treatment prior to their surgery.
Studies have shown that treating periodontal disease reduces the serum markers (markers that doctors measure in blood tests) for blood vessel disease and also results in significant improvements in blood flow through vessels. This would have marked benefits in preventing atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular events. The size of change that periodontal treatment can provide does need further evaluation.
It has also been shown that gum inflammation is associated with raised cholesterol levels, (raised cholesterol levels are significant risk factors for atheroma formation and heart disease) and that periodontal treatment will decrease cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed to determine the long term therapeutic benefits of such treatment.
Osteoporosis affects the bones of the jaws, and both osteoporosis and some of the medications used to treat it can affect some treatments.
The kidneys are one of the most important organs when it comes to bone metabolism or turn over. As teeth are supported by bone, anything that affects bone metabolism can affect the teeth. Kidney disease and the medication used to treat it can cause a number of problems in the mouth including dry mouth (xerostomia), mobile teeth, inflammation of the mouth and salivary glands.
If you have kidney disease it is very important that your dentist is aware of your medical history – they may need to liaise with your doctor prior to the start of any complex treatment.
Studies have reported associations between respiratory infections and periodontal disease in elderly, institutionalised patients. Improving the oral hygiene of these patients can be effective in reducing the rate of respiratory infections.
Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease
Teeth are usually able to withstand normal ‘wear & tear’, but excessive wear can occur as a result of acid reflux. Acid from the stomach can soften the surface of the teeth which will then wear more rapidly than normal. The upper front teeth may get thinner and appear more translucent. They may start to chip at the tips and eventually may appear shorter.
If gastro-oesophageal reflux is the cause of the wear of the teeth, your dentist & doctor may need to work out the best way to treat this problem.
A similar erosive or acid wear of the teeth can occur following a regular intake of acidic food and drink e.g. frequent citrus fruit or carbonated drinks. In these cases the pattern of tooth wear is different and your dentist can advise you how to protect your teeth, prevent further wear and treat any tooth wear that has occurred.
Diet/Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
Your mouth can show the first symptoms of vitamin & mineral deficiencies. The main nutrients that can affect the mouth are Vitamin B12, folic acid and iron.
Indicators that there is a deficiency can include a smooth or sore tongue, oral ulceration, sore spots at the corner of the mouth and oral thrush. If you or your dentist notice these signs, it may be worth seeing your doctor for some blood tests.
Medications/Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
A dry mouth can be caused by some disease processes e.g. diabetes and Sjörgen’s syndrome, and by many medications such as anti-depressants and drugs used to lower blood pressure.
Saliva has a cleansing and antibacterial effect on the mouth. A reduction in the flow of saliva can increase the risk of developing dental decay, oral inflammation and fungal infections. It can make speaking and eating more difficult and result in some taste impairment.
Some studies show a link between the frequency of toothbrushing, gum disease, tooth loss and Alzheimer’s disease. A further study linked chewing ability to dementia but more evidence is required to confirm these findings.
What happens when you visit the dentist?
When we carry out your dental examination we will be assessing the health of the mouth by checking the soft tissues (the cheeks, tongue, floor of the mouth and palate), examining the teeth to look for signs of decay and ‘wear& tear’, and carrying out an assessment of the health of the gums. We may also take periodic radiographs (x-rays).
We will also ask you for a full update on your medical history and it is always worth bringing a list of current and recent medication with you. Some medical conditions will mean that we may recommend you are seen more frequently to monitor and maintain the health of your mouth.