The World Health Organization (WHO) has scheduled this Thursday, April 7, as World Health Day. This year’s event will focus on diabetes, including its causes, costs, and need for prevention. The WHO reports that 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the organization expects that number to more than double in the next 20 years. And, dental professionals can play a greater role in its care.
“Preventive healthcare lies at the very heart of the role of the dental profession and, in primary care, we are better placed than most health providers to alert patients to the early signs of health-threatening behaviors as we see patients so regularly,” said Amanda Gallie, president elect of the British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT).
For example, the BADT says that dental practices should expand their care to include blood glucose testing as well as diet and well-being advice, in addition to motivating patients to practice better health habits and minimize their risk of diabetes.
“Offering in-practice screening for diabetes, in the form of blood glucose testing, not only adds value to the patient’s dental experience but also acts as a key marker regarding the risk for pre-diabetics and can be a catalyst to discussions about the importance of good dental hygiene and other preventive measures,” Gallie said.
WHO is offering promotional materials such as posters and an online quiz to help promote this awareness. It also is providing educational materials to support discussions between patients and practitioners. Additionally, the World Health Day website includes information and advice on establishing advocacy programs.
“Effective health promotion and prevention of oral disease, including supporting general health improvement activities around diet and nutrition, are key parts of what dental therapists do,” said Fiona Sandom, BADT president. “As many of our members work closely with the public on a daily basis, they are in an excellent position to talk to people about their well-being and help them make healthy choices.”