Research points to benefits of diabetes screening in dental practices
MELBOURNE, Australia: Since World Diabetes Day is set for this Saturday, 14 November, the relationship between diabetes and oral health management may be on the minds of dental professionals. A research project conducted in Australia has confirmed that the oral healthcare setting can play a valuable role in individuals’ systemic health by screening for patients who either have Type 2 diabetes or are prediabetic.
A research team at the University of Melbourne’s dental school conducted the four-year project, which involved 51 dental practices and 801 of their patients and was carried out under the name “iDENTify: Early identification of Type 2 diabetes & prediabetes in the oral healthcare setting”.
“People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems, and it affects nearly every organ in the body, causing disability and life-threatening health problems,” Dr Rodrigo Mariño, project leader and associate professor at the dental school, told Dental Tribune International (DTI). He explained that dental patients with poorly controlled diabetes “experience far greater periodontal problems and poorer treatment outcomes” and that these can lead to issues such as edentulism. However, many dental professionals do not engage in routine screening of asymptomatic patients, who may, for various reasons, be at an increased risk of having or developing Type 2 diabetes.
“Early detection of patients with dysglycaemia in primary care has focused predominantly on medical settings,” Mariño added. “To our knowledge, iDENTify represents the first prospective study aiming to evaluate a Type 2 diabetes screening tool employed in a private oral healthcare setting.”
The research team behind iDENTify is currently working on several research papers based on the project’s results, Mariño informed DTI. He stated that their preliminary findings indicated that “the oral healthcare environment is an appropriate setting for medical screening of this nature” and that dental professionals are “willing to participate in screening for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes”.
Mariño and his team’s future plans include the preparation of a continuing professional development course for dental professionals focusing on Type 2 diabetes, and the provision of an online toolkit for screening, identifying main symptoms and considering other factors related to this condition.