The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidance that highlights the role of dental teams in England as a key player in identifying high risk individuals.

Dental surgeries are among the healthcare settings cited in the guidance as central to identifying high risk individuals – particularly those less likely to attend a GP – providing risk assessments and encouraging patients to take them.

The guidance recommends that health and community centres, including dental surgeries, should offer validated self-assessment questionnaires or validated web-based tools and supply the information required to complete and interpret them.

Providers of the risk assessments are urged to explain to patients that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making long-term lifestyle changes, and to discuss the consequences of developing the condition. High-risk patients should then be encouraged to contact their GP surgery for a blood test and referral to a local, evidence-based, quality-assured lifestyle-change programme, which should be tailored to individual needs.

Evidence suggests that the risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced by almost 60 per cent if an individual adopts a healthier lifestyle. The disease currently affects over 2.5 million people in the UK, and this is predicted to rise to five million – nearly ten per cent of the population – by 2025. The cost of treatment and long term care for diabetes patients is estimated to account for one tenth of the NHS budget each year.

The guidance – Preventing type 2 diabetes – risk identification and interventions for individuals at high risk – is available from NICE’s website.