Last month we celebrated St. Valentine’s Day. St. Valentine was an ancient Roman priest beheaded by Emperor Claudius in about 270. Ever since, lovers of all ages have been losing their heads over their beloveds on this day.
On February 23, I was privileged to attend the Second Annual Men’s Conference for the Diocese of Duluth. Our afternoon speaker was a famous psychologist; he was very inspiring and entertaining. He and his wife have adopted ten children. All of them were unwanted and cast away by their biological parents, and they are of all races. He spoke about the strange looks his wife gets when she takes them all shopping with her. One person actually said, “Is this some kind of a club?” They all follow their mother in single file, he said, adding, “Their tiny leg irons keep them from straying.” He was, of course, kidding.
Our speaker then went on to speak of the importance of the relationship between husband and wife – any husband and wife. He admitted to having trouble reading his own wife’s moods, so he went to an antique store and for her birthday bought her a 1970’s “Mood Ring”. He said it works great: When his wife is in a good mood, the stone in the ring turns green, but when she is in a bad mood, it leaves a little red spot in the middle of his forehead!
So this brings us in a roundabout way to St. Valentine’s Day, the premier candy day for lovers. While I’m sure it pales in comparison to Halloween, the real point is that all this sugar consumption takes a toll.
As dentists, we know how poor oral hygiene and excess sugar consumption ravage the dentition, but how much thought do we give to the struggle of our diabetic patients? Not only the massive amounts of refined sugars in our diets but the epidemic of obesity from junk food consumption contribute to the tremendous rise in type II diabetes. The two questions we dentists find ourselves asking so often these days apply here as well. What can we do? And where do we start? Our cover feature for this issue of NWD is something of a GPS for finding the answers.
I went ahead and did a little web search on my own, finding the following information from the folks at Colgate (I’m paraphrasing…)
• Research shows that there is an increased prevalence of periodontal disease among those with diabetes, adding to the list of other complications associated with diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
• Research suggests that the relationship between serious periodontal disease and diabetes is a two-way street. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to periodontitis, but periodontitis may affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests that people with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the periodontium.
• Poorly controlled diabetics are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. They have trouble fighting off infection, both fungal and bacterial.
Diabetics, both types I and II, suffer from poor circulation, and thus do not heal well after surgery. I have a dear friend and golfing buddy, thin as a rail, who is a pro golfer and instructor, whom I have watched battle type I diabetes for years. He has to inject himself with insulin several times a day, and has lost a foot and his opposite great toe to infection, yet he still shoots to a scratch handicap — as if the challenge of his diabetes wasn’t handicap enough.
When you think of the many diabetic patients we see every day, more knowledge of this ubiquitous condition would be sweet indeed. Also in this issue, we have a great interview with MDA president Mike Flynn. Mike is a refreshingly outspoken guy who makes a difference, and he knows how to make good things happen.
We also get a chance to look back on all the good that was done for the “Give Kids a Smile” effort and to look forward to the upcoming “Mission of Mercy” this June in Bemidji. Thanks for being such loyal readers. I look forward to seeing you all at the Star of the North Meeting.