Diabetics should have periodontal checks

REGULAR periodontal checks could reduce the risk of serious complications in diabetes sufferers, a leading specialist has said.

Incorporating such oral health checks into patient care could reduce the risk of cardiac, renal and other complications associated with poor sugar control in diabetes.

Renowned periodontics specialist Professor Philip Preshaw said the links between oral and systemic health are ignored “at our peril”, particularly given the worldwide obesity epidemic which is the main risk for type 2 diabetes.

Speaking at the annual BDA/BDJ winter lecture series, Professor Preshaw said diabetes is now regarded as a pro-inflammatory condition and inflammation is likely to underpin the links between this and periodontal disease.

He highlighted the benefits of treating periodontal disease in managing diabetes.

"Periodontal treatment has been shown to improve glycaemic control, with measureable reductions in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c)," he said. "It was remarkable that in research studies, periodontal treatment had led to as much as 0.4 per cent reduction in HbA1c, the equivalent to adding a second drug to the treatment of diabetes."

He explored the potential role that the dental team could play in the management of both conditions, including the possibility of testing for signs of diabetes.

He said if a periodontal assessment in the dental practice yields blood this could potentially be used to test glucose levels on the spot. This could be helpful in detecting undiagnosed cases of diabetes, or highlight instances of poorly controlled diabetes. The patient could then be referred to their medical practitioner for further assessment. Such screening could take up to about 20 minutes, Professor Preshaw said, but he acknowledged that this would have resource and financial implications.

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