Clinicians' Guide to Diabetes and Oral Health
The purpose of this Clinicians’ Guide is to raise awareness of dental and oral health issues among clinicians who treat patients with diabetes. This guide is for endocrinologists, diabetes educators, nurse practitioners, primary care providers, and related diabetes care providers. Furthermore, this guide is meant as a tool clinicians can use to address all a patient’s needs in a constrained time period.
This guide is applicable to all age groups and types of diabetes:
- Type 1
- Type 2
In the way health care is structured today in the US, clinicians have limited time with individual patients during their appointment times. Granted, diabetes is a complex disease that requires thorough and careful monitoring of many aspects of a patient’s life—meal planning, exercise, and medications for coexisting disorders aside from glucose management. It is a challenge for clinicians to address all of a patient’s needs in a constrained time period.
Periodontal or Gum Disease Prevalence
The prevalence of periodontal or gum disease in people with diabetes is at least 86% and even up to 100%, according to some studies.1 Potential complications in patients with diabetes who develop a dental problem, include:
- Cardiovascular disease
All physicians, not just dentists, should discuss the importance of dental hygiene and oral health with patients who have diabetes.
- It is recommended that a patient with healthy gum tissue have a professional dental cleaning every six months. Those with periodontal disease should receive dental care every three to four months.
- Self-care at home is just as critical. It is important to brush properly all surfaces on and around the teeth, at least twice a day, and to scrape the tongue and floss at least once a day.
- All health care providers have a responsibility to educate patients about adopting personal health habits to help prevent/manage dental disease.
- In turn, dentists should be knowledgeable enough to discuss systemic health and diet and how they relate to diabetes prevention, management and control.