November is Diabetes Awareness Month—an ideal time for dental hygienists across Canada to remind us of the important connections between diabetes and oral health.
According to Diabetes Canada, more than 11.7 million people in Canada are living with diabetes or prediabetes. These individuals are particularly susceptible to oral health problems, such as dry mouth (which can cause soreness, ulcers, and tooth decay) and gum disease (periodontitis). Research also suggests that periodontitis, like all infections, may cause blood glucose levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. As Anne Caissie, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA), explains, “It is very important for people living with diabetes to visit their dental hygienist regularly for professional oral care and to practise good oral hygiene at home.”
To that end, CDHA has produced an oral health care tip sheet, available in English and French, for people with diabetes (www.dentalhygienecanada.ca/diabetes). It offers easy instructions for daily mouth care and healthy living, along with guidance on when to schedule dental hygiene appointments and what information to share. Caissie notes, “Your dental hygienist needs to know if you have diabetes and if it is under control, because it has an impact on their clinical assessment and treatment recommendations.” The goal of both at-home and professional oral care is to reduce inflammation in the mouth, allowing clients with diabetes to enjoy optimal oral health, better regulate their blood glucose levels, and reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening complications from this serious disease.
CDHA is the collective national voice of more than 30,000 dental hygienists in Canada, directly representing 21,000 individual members, including students. Since 1963, CDHA has worked to advance the profession and promote the importance of oral health. Dental hygiene is the sixth-largest regulated health profession in Canada, with professionals working in a variety of settings, including independent dental hygiene practice, with people of all ages, addressing issues related to oral health. For more information on oral health, visit dentalhygienecanada.ca.