Your dentist plays a key role in early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes

In a new review, researchers found that dental teams could play an integral role in identifying people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as in the early detection of the condition in those who are undiagnosed.

They found that using patient questionnaires and point of care blood testing within a dental surgery setting could lead to better outcomes for patients and improved management of the condition.

The research was led by a team in the University of Birmingham.

Severe periodontitis—or gum disease—is strong linked to type 2 diabetes, a condition that is thought to affect approximately 422 million adults globally (according to the World Health Organisation).

As type 2 diabetes is asymptomatic in its early stages, many individuals can remain undiagnosed for many years.

However, with established links between compromised glycemic status and oral health, dental professionals could be vital in the identification of the condition.

The team identified positive attitudes of physicians, dental team members, patients and the public towards risk assessment and early case detection of diabetes and pre-diabetes within the dental surgery.

Patients also strongly supported tests being undertaken that provided immediate results.

Not only does this demonstrate that there may be a benefit in engaging the dental workforce to identify these cases, but it also shows a need for a more joined-up approach to care pathways between physicians and dental practitioners.

The work builds on joint international guidance published last year on gum disease and diabetes, which recommends closer working pathways between oral health care professionals and physicians.

The Birmingham team was heavily involved with both publications.

The lead author of the study is Professor Iain Chapple, Head of the University of Birmingham’s School of Dentistry.

The study is published in Current Oral Health Reports.

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