Dentists may help diagnose type 2 diabetes

Individuals who believe they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes may benefit from visiting the dentist. Experts say that oral health professionals may be among the first to notice certain warning signals associated with development of the condition.

More than 23 million U.S. adults have diabetes. However, as much as 20 percent of these cases go undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. Allowing the condition to progress untreated may lead to a lower quality of life and other health complications.

Scott Navarro, the vice president and dental director of Delta Dental of New Jersey, told the News Record that dentists may be able to notice some of the signs of diabetes. For example, he said that diabetics are much more likely to develop gum disease.

"We've known for a long time that people with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease," he told the news source. "And today, although not yet firmly established, evidence is emerging that periodontal [gum] disease is associated with increased risk for diabetes complications and may be associated with the development of type 2 diabetes."

He added that dentists who notice oral infections that are potentially diabetes-related may be able to refer patients to medical doctors for a full diagnosis.