The interplay between oral health and chronic illness is complicated – as one can affect the other in ways that may not be apparent to the vast majority of patients. Doctors and dentists, on the other hand, are trained to recognize these connections. So, keeping an open line of communication with your health care team and keeping yourself aware of habits, foods, and medications that may interfere with your overall health is critical. But how do you best do that?
Over-CommunicateAt each of your regularly scheduled appointments, be sure to inform your doctor about any chronic illness that may be a part of your life. In other words, you want to err on the side of over-communicating with your dental and health care teams at all times. In some instances, it may even be wise to connect your dentist and physician so they too can communicate to ensure nothing is overlooked.
Remain educatedMaking the best use of the Internet and subscribing to health newsletters relevant to your condition can be a good first step. Medical knowledge doubles every few years, so subscribe to updates to stay abreast of the new developments. You may also wish to consider setting up news alerts using Google News to capture anything pressing and essential to your health.
Below is a list of chronic illnesses where oral health concerns commonly crop up. It is far from exhaustive, but a good starting point for additional research. Again, with any chronic illness, following the above two steps will help you to stay on top of your health.
- Structural congenital heart disease
- Bleeding diatheses (e.g. haemophilia)
- Chronic suppurative lung disease (e.g. cystic fibrosis)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Idiopathic arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Chronic renal disease
- Organ transplantation
- Craniofacial abnormalities (e.g. cleft palate)
- Learning disabilities
- Burn injuries