In a series of dental articles, the Saskatoon dental team at Neesh Dental share interesting dental information and education. In our latest post, we discuss how a visit to the dentist may help identify diabetes
Were you aware that dentists can help identify patients with diabetes or prediabetes who don’t know they have the disease?
Evaluating the number of missing teeth and the percentage of deep periodontal pockets, or abnormal openings between the tooth and gums, the researcher dentists from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine were able to correctly identify 73 percent of cases of diabetes and prediabetes. When the researchers also considered the results of a blood sugar test, the accuracy increased to 92 percent, the researchers say.
In 2015, 3.4 million Canadians (9.3%) have been diagnosed with diabetes. Another one million have diabetes, but don’t know it because they have not been diagnosed. An additional 5.7 million Canadians have prediabetes.[i],[ii]
So today, of 37 million Canadians, more than 10 million have diabetes or prediabetes.
Even more alarming is the fact that the number of Canadians with diagnosed diabetes will rise to 5 million people (12%) by 2025. While 29% of Canadians now have diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, or prediabetes, this will rise to 33% by 2025 if current trends continue.[iii]
“Early recognition of diabetes has been the focus of efforts from medical and public health colleagues for years, as early treatment of affected individuals can limit the development of many serious complications,” said study researcher Evanthia Lalla, an associate professor at the USA College of Dental Medicine. “Our findings provide a simple approach [to identify diabetes] that can be easily used in all dental care settings.”
Periodontal disease, or chronic inflammation and infection of the gums, is an early complication of diabetes. Since the majority of Canadian adults see a dentist once a year, the researchers figured dental visits might be a good opportunity to catch undiagnosed diabetics and prediabetics.
People with diabetes who keep their blood glucose levels in a target range have no more dental problems than the rest of the population,” says Dr. Carol Alexopoulos, a dentist who practices in Toronto, Ontario.
People with poorly controlled diabetes are at greater risk for dental problems. They’re more likely to have infections of their gums and the bones that hold their teeth in place, because diabetes can reduce the blood supply to the gums. High blood sugar may also cause dry mouth and make gum disease worse.
“However, those with poorly managed blood glucose levels have a decrease in saliva and an increase in salivary sugar, which leads to dry mouth, ulcers, fungal infections, increased tooth decay, loss of teeth, and difficulty wearing dentures,” explains Dr. Alexopoulos.
Pass it on: A trip to the dentist may help diagnose diabetes or prediabetes.
At Neesh Dental in Saskatoon, a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. Our team of Saskatoon dentists and support staff try to always share interesting articles, dental facts and dental hygiene tips so you can take good care of your teeth. Contact us today to book a Saskatoon dental appointment.