Upon diagnosing Qi with diabetes 17 years ago, doctors emphasized to him that maintaining good oral health was an important part of managing his chronic disease and keeping his blood sugar in check. Qi was vigilant about brushing and flossing, but couldn’t always afford to go to the dentist for routine care.
Despite Qi’s best efforts to manage his diabetes, the husband and father developed complications, including chronic kidney disease. When his kidneys failed completely, he started regular kidney dialysis and looked forward to the prospect of getting a kidney transplant.
But before he could even get on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, Qi needed dental care. He couldn’t put off treatment because an infection in the mouth can spread to the rest of the body. Qi’s inflamed and infected gums jeopardized his prospects of having a successful transplant.
Through his dialysis provider, Northwest Kidney Centers, Qi connected with Project Access Northwest, which referred him to a dentist who could perform the necessary treatment. Without the support of these organizations, it is likely that Qi would still be on dialysis, he said.
Following a successful transplant, Qi no longer needs dialysis and can lead a full life. He said he’s now able to participate in activities that were once impossible, such as taking his kids on all-day outings.
The dental treatment itself has also been a boon to Qi’s self-confidence. He described how he used to avoid making eye contact and kept conversations as short as possible because of his dental problems. Now, he actively engages with others and volunteers at the local food bank.
Qi said, “When you have a healthy mouth, it improves your health, your confidence and how you feel about yourself.”