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Oral Health Care is Critical for People with Diabetes

Sep 12, 2016

Healthcare professionals in both the diabetes and dental care arenas need a full understanding about how diabetes and gum disease can adversely affect each other, and should focus on encouraging people with diabetes to maintain proper oral hygiene, according to a new white paper summarizing the findings of a thought leader summit.

“Collaboration between diabetes educators and dental professionals is essential for maintaining tooth and gum health for people with diabetes,” said Gary Scheiner MS, CDE, AADE’s 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year, and co-moderator of the thought-leader summit. “Timely screenings, referrals and cross-education can help take a huge bite out of dental problems.”

“People with diabetes have a marked increase in risk for gum disease, and experience almost 3 times more oral health issues than their counterparts who do not have diabetes,” the study, a follow up to the summit organized by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and Colgate-Palmolive Co., reveals. “Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease and poor metabolic control. Because diabetes and gum disease are chronic illnesses that can detrimentally affect the other, appropriate patient screening, education, and management are vital.”

"The more dental and health professionals understand about the critical relationship between diabetes and oral health, the better the care they can provide to their patients," says Foti Panagakos, DMD, PhD and Global Director, Scientific Affairs for Colgate-Palmolive Company. "With this greater understanding comes an opportunity for diabetes educators, primary care physicians and dental professionals to work together and determine how to more effectively screen and treat patients, while also teaching them about the importance of diabetes management in oral and overall health."

AADE has identified several steps that diabetes educators and oral health providers should take to mitigate the affects of poor oral health and diabetes on each other:

  • Oral health curriculum should be added to exams for diabetes education certification.
  • People with diabetes should be strongly encouraged to attend to their dental care.
  • Oral health providers must be educated regarding the pathophysiology, morbidity and treatment of diabetes.
  • Diabetes educators must take steps to ensure primary care providers and oral healthcare providers are aware of the services educators provide.

The study concludes that diabetes educators, along with oral health professionals need to be a part of the overall care team for people with diabetes.

“Oral health care providers can play an important role in the care of people with diabetes,” said Ira B. Lamster D.D.S., M.M.Sc., Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health and Dean Emeritus, College of Dental Medicine, Columbia University. “They can identify undiagnosed and poorly managed blood glucose abnormalities, and assure that persons with diabetes have a healthy mouth, allowing consumption of a healthy diet, and avoidance of acute oral infections. This approach to dental practice will promote better integration of oral health and health.”

View and obtain a copy of the report at

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