Going to the Dentist? Here’s How to Prepare for Your Visit
Last updated: September 2022
You might not think of your dentist as part of your diabetes care team, but they are. Living with type 2 diabetes means you may be at higher risk of developing dry mouth, oral infections, gum disease, and periodontal disease.1
Along with regular doctor check-ups, seeing the dentist should be part of your regular healthcare routine. And just like with any of your healthcare providers, you and your dental health professionals should build a rapport and relationship to keep you healthy.2
Get to know your dentist and dental hygienist
As you would with any healthcare provider, you want to get to know your dentist a little bit and have them get to know you. Usually, they will have a list of questions they'll ask at the beginning of the first office visit. More than just a bit of chit-chat, it will include questions about your dental health and history.
Some people feel a bit anxious when seeing the dentist. They're afraid of the pain or discomfort that might come with a teeth cleaning, dental treatment, or procedure. If this is the case, be honest. Let the dentist know you're uncomfortable and ask how they can minimize pain or discomfort.
Be honest about your concerns
Being honest and letting the dentist know your concerns is an essential first step in open communication and building trust. Discussing your concerns will also give you a read on what you can expect from your dentist or hygienist when treating you.
Tell your dentist you have diabetes
Your dentist and dental hygienist need to know about your diabetes. They need to understand that your glucose management may affect your dental health and if you've had any dental complications from diabetes.
Also, your dental providers need to be aware of any possibility that you could experience hypoglycemia while receiving care.
Tell them a bit about your diabetes history. Your dentist might want to know:
- When you were first diagnosed with diabetes
- What type of diabetes you have
- What medications you're currently taking
- Your most recent A1c result
- If you have any pain, swelling, or bleeding in your teeth and gums
- If you have a history of low glucose levels while receiving dental treatment
Ask for specific instructions before a major dental procedure
Regular check-ups and a cleaning probably won't require changing your daily diabetes care routine. But when going through any major dental procedure, it's best to confirm.
If your dentist doesn't include any specific guidance related to type 2 diabetes in your pre-treatment instructions, be sure to ask.
Are changes to diabetes management needed?
You will need to know if you should change your regular diabetes care routine to prepare for the procedure. Will you need to change your medication schedule? How closely should you monitor your glucose levels? Are there particular foods or drinks to avoid?
What are warning signs in the healing process?
You will also need to know any danger signs if healing after the procedure is not proceeding as expected. What symptoms or sensations are red flags? How long is it reasonable to feel discomfort? When should you get in touch with the dentist for an unplanned check-up?
Include dental hygiene in your daily care routine
The best way to ensure your mouth and teeth stay healthy is to take care of them as part of your daily care routine:
- Brush your teeth 2 times a day.
- Floss daily.
- See your dentist regularly, usually 2 times a year.
- Have regular dental cleanings, 2 to 3 times a year.
- Contact your dentist if you experience pain, swelling, or bleeding in the gums or mouth.
- Contact your dentist if you experience a loose tooth.
- Contact your dentist if your dentures do not fit properly.
An additional dental care suggestion for people with type 2 diabetes is to actively manage glucose levels, trying to keep them within the target range as much as possible.
Dental health is part of overall health
Keeping your mouth and teeth healthy with type 2 diabetes requires time, effort, and commitment. This work can be more accessible when your dentist is on board as part of your diabetes care team. Take the time to find a dentist you can work with.
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