Should dentists screen for diabetes?
The British Dental Association (BDA) has responded to issues raised in a study published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
The authors of ‘Periodontitis as a possible early sign of diabetes mellitus’ speculate that screening patients with severe gum disease in dental practices would be feasible and worthwhile.
The researchers base their findings on 313 predominantly middle-aged people attending a university dental clinic in Amsterdam: 109 had no gum disease; 126 had mild to moderate gum disease; and in 78 it was severe, affecting the supporting structures of the teeth.
The BDA is aware that several studies show a strong correlation between severe gum disease and type 2 diabetes, although causation has yet to be proven.
The BDA’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said, “While there may be a role for dentists in the future to screen patients with severe gum disease for type 2 diabetes, there are currently no established protocols to do this and it would require funding in place for training and delivering the service.
“Regardless of an individual’s risk for diabetes, preventing gum disease is important for all patients and dentists are the experts in oral health. They advise that the best way to do this is to limit sugar intake, brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and visit the dentist regularly to detect problems early as many dental problems don’t become visible or cause pain until they are in the more advance stages.”