Diabetes - Can Your Dentist Uncover Your Secret?
Dentists Can Screen for Diabetes
August 10, 2011
Dr. David Leader, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Diabetes is the decreased ability of the body to process sugar.
People who have diabetes have a shorter life expectancy.
They are much more prone to infection and disease. Their
medical costs are much higher than similar non-diabetic patients.
The cost of treatment for diabetes is staggering. 79 million
Americans are pre-diabetic. Nearly 26 million Americans
have diabetes. About 7 million people who have diabetes are
undiagnosed. Data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet
(American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org , released
Jan. 26, 2011) How can a visit to your dentist help?
The January 2011, cover of the Journal of the American Dental
Association illustrates a creative study by three
investigators from the Harvard School of Public Health,
Dr Shanshan Li, a physician, Dr Paige Williams, a biostatistician,
and Dr Chester Douglas, a dentist. These doctors developed
simple guidelines to enable dentists to identify patients
who are likely to have diabetes. Is it practical for dentists
to follow this guideline? How will patients benefit
from this procedure?
Dentistry and Medicine are very closely related professions.
In some countries, dentists are physicians who specialize
in oral health. In United States dental schools, dental
students study most of the same basic science courses as medical
students. Students at the Tufts University School of Dental
Medicine spend increasing time in their 4 years course of
study learning about medicine, health, and the relationship
between oral health and disease. Dental students frequently
consult physicians and other medical personnel.
Dentists often uncover serious medical conditions before
medical doctors are able to. Most people visit their dentist
more often than their medical doctors. Some medical conditions
present in ways that dentists are better able to discover.
For example, Scleroderma is an auto-immune disease that affects
approximately 300,000 Americans. One of the signs of
this disease is that teeth become loose due to a change in
the tissue that holds the teeth into the bone. Dentists are
the only healthcare professionals that are likely or able
to discover this condition.
Published by Dr. David Leader
Dave Leader is an Associate Clinical Professor at Tufts
Dental School in Boston, and a family dentist in Malden, Ma.
Dr Leader is the Chairman of the Council on Dental Benefit
Programs of the Massachusetts.