At your Palo Alto dental clinic, our dentists are well aware of the connection between oral and systemic health, and eager to collaborate with other health professionals to support both. That’s why the team at Blue Turtle Dental was excited to read about a new study confirming that diabetes can be tested for during dental exams.
What? Diabetes and dentistry?
If this sounds unusual, here’s some background. To begin with, introducing screening of diabetes to dental visits casts a wider net: many people visit their dentist regularly, but see their regular doctor only if they have a problem. Since current diabetes screening is primarily limited to a medical doctor’s clinic, this means patients miss out on valuable testing that could make a real difference in their health.
In addition, many people don’t know they are at risk for diabetes in the first place, and the disease can also go undiagnosed in patients who don’t know they are diabetic and aren’t seeing a doctor regularly. In fact, the study focused on patients 45 years of age or over, since this age group is at particular risk for developing type II diabetes– but might not be aware of it.
The earlier diabetes is found and diagnosed, the more helpful treatment will be.
Diabetes affects your oral health
Diabetes screening does more than create a “safety net” for patients who might miss a diagnosis for diabetes. By catching diabetes early, the screening will vastly improve the oral health of those patients. Some medical conditions place patients at a greater risk for oral health problems, and diabetes is one of them. Diabetes has been linked with problems in periodontal (gum) health, as well as the health of other body systems.
An early finding and diagnosis of diabetes alert your Palo Alto dental professionals to be on the lookout for periodontal changes so we can catch small problems– before they become big ones.
Testing in different places reveals the same results
The study, which is published in the American Journal of Public Health, examined the results of diabetic screening using gingival crevicular blood (GCB) and comparing it to the results gained from the traditional finger stick blood (FSB). The finger prick, of course, is the way that your doctor’s office typically screens its patients for diabetes– but the study found that GCB screening was just as effective.
Researchers note that in addition to screening for new diabetic patients, the oral screening can also be used to check blood sugar levels in known diabetic patients, thus helping these patients monitor their own management of the disease.
Great health through teamwork
The study is an exciting example of how your oral health professionals can team up with you, the patient, as well as other members of your health care team, to ensure optimal health— for your mouth and your whole body.