By: Donna Jornsay, MS, BSN, CPNP, CDE, CDTC, BC-ADM
Diabetes Program Manager and Clinical Specialist at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in California
The old proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” encapsulates how collaborative efforts and shared responsibility can ease the difficulty of profound tasks. In the case of oral health and diabetes, the village involves three prominent healthcare professional organizations working together to tackle the growing pandemic of diabetes. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) met in Chicago in December of 2017 to launch a collaborative effort that increases screenings and referrals for people at risk for diabetes.
Representatives from diabetes education, family medicine, and oral health will collaboratively lead presentations at the annual conferences of each professional organization. The first of these talks was given at AGD’s annual meeting this past June. The next will be at AADE18, August 17 to 20, and in October at AAFP’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
Dental offices are already involved in other health screenings, including those for sleep apnea, cancer and hypertension, so diabetes screenings would reinforce dentistry’s migration toward integrated health.
The goal of this collaboration is to improve health outcomes in people living with diabetes by promoting the integrated management of diabetes through improved communication between dentists, physicians and diabetes educators. The partnership will also highlight the bidirectional relationship between diabetes and oral health among professionals and educate the public on the importance of early detection of diabetes.
Dentists play a special role in this initiative. According to the CDC, 65% of adults see their dentist annually for routine care, which positions dentist’s offices favorably for the early detection of diabetes. Dental offices are already involved in other health screenings, including those for sleep apnea, cancer and hypertension, so diabetes screenings would reinforce dentistry’s migration toward integrated health. The creation of a new billing code in 2018 for in-office A1C testing recognizes dentists’ role in integrated health and heralds a new standard of care for people with diabetes.
This collaboration will work to inform dental professionals on this new opportunity to refer people with diabetes to care and improve treatment planning success rates. Moreover, diabetes educators and physicians will learn to inform people with diabetes about the impact oral health has on their ability to successfully manage their disease.
The pandemic of diabetes impacts us all — in our families, in our practices and in our communities. This initiative brings together new interdisciplinary partners to identify the millions of people with diabetes and prediabetes who have yet to be diagnosed and help them learn how to manage diabetes for better health outcomes. There’s a lot of work to be done, and this collaboration brings together a village to do it!