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, report researchers at the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry.
The systematic review found that using risk assessment tools such as 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.
Severe periodontitis is significantly linked to Type 2 diabetes, which affects about 422 million adults around the world, the researchers said. As Type 2 diabetes is asymptomatic in its early stages, many individuals can remain undiagnosed for many years.
With established links between compromised glycemic status and oral health, however, the researchers said that dental professionals could be vital in the identification of the condition.
“Our review identified positive attitudes of physicians, dental team members, patients, and the public towards risk assessing and early case detection of diabetes and pre-diabetes within the dental surgery. Patients also strongly supported tests being undertaken that provided immediate results,” said lead researcher Iain Chapple, head of the School of Dentistry.
“Not only does this demonstrate that there may be benefit in engaging the dental workforce to identify these cases, but also shows a need for a more joined up approach to care pathways between physicians and dental practitioners,” said Chapple.
The research builds on joint international guidance published last year on gum disease and diabetes, which recommends closer working pathways between oral healthcare professionals and physicians and a commissioning standard issued in 2019 by NHS England, setting out a vision for the implementation of such joint working practices. The Birmingham team was heavily involved with both publications.
The study, “The Role of the Oral Healthcare Team in Identification of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review,” was published by Current Oral Health Reports.