diabetesScreening dental patients for diabetes would be ‘worthwhile’, a study published in the BMJ has found.

The article, titled ‘Periodontitis as a possible early sign of diabetes mellitus‘, found that there is a strong correlation between patients with severe gum disease and those with type 2 diabetes, although causation has yet to be proven.

‘While there may be a role for dentists in the future to screen patients with severe gum disease for type 2 diabetes, there are currently no established protocols to do this and it would require funding in place for training and delivering the service,’ the BDA’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, said.

‘Regardless of an individual’s risk for diabetes, preventing gum disease is important for all patients and dentists are the experts in oral health.

‘They advise that the best way to do this is to limit sugar intake, brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and visit the dentist regularly to detect problems early as many dental problems don’t become visible or cause pain until they are in the more advance stages.’

Type 2 diabetes

The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in England has been predicted to reach five million by 2020.

Previously the BSDHT has called on the government to invest time, money and energy into raising the awareness over the importance of dental hygiene to halt these predicted jumps.

‘Oral health education is the cornerstone of preventative dentistry and can have a positive impact on not only the health of the British population’s teeth and gums, but on their overall health, too,’ Michaela ONeill, president of the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy, said.

‘With a growing body of evidence illustrating links between oral health and other inflammatory diseases and beyond, now is the time for the government to take dentistry seriously.’