An alarming number of children and adults are diganosed with some form of diabetes in the United States each year while a staggering number remain undiagnosed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a fact sheet in 2011 stating that 25.8 million are diagnosed while almost 7 million are not diagnosed.
According to the Expenditure Panel Survey conducted by Strauss in 2008, people visited the dentist more frequently than their primary medical provider thus, health care providers in the dental care setting provide a critical and important opportunity to identify patients unaware of their diabetic status.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) suggests that each year, 11 percent of pre-diabetic individuals will develop Type 2 diabetes within three years of their initial diagnosis while other studies show that many people with pre-diabetes develop Type 2 within 10 years. Several studies demonstrate that Type 2 and periodontal health are considered to be biologically linked. Periodontal conditions are often aggravated by poor glycemic control. Those with poorly controlled diabetes are more susceptible to infection and a higher presence of serious periodontal diseases. This strong correlation suggests the early detection of diabetes is critical for an individual's health and periodontal health.
Pre-screening for Pre-Diabetes in the Dental Setting
As mentioned earlier, the Strauss survey in 2008, showed that individuals who did not seek general health care services did in fact keep their dental appointments. Today, the most common method of pre-screening diabetes in the dental field includes identifying common risks factors such as family history, weight, hypertension, cholesterol, member of a high-risk ethnic population, or having delivered an overweight baby or a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. These risk factors have a tendency to be overlooked and sometimes patients and doctors are not asking the right questions about the patient's glycemic control. A patient's periodontal measurements and conditions offer an approach to risk assessment that can be carried out in the dental office. It provides dental healthcare providers the amazing and life-saving opportunity for early diagnosis of diabetes and the necessary refferals thereafter.