SCREENING FOR DIABETES AT YOUR LOCAL DENTIST - A HOLISTIC STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

Regular readers of this blog will know that we have reported before on the impact of diabetes on oral health.

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People with poorly controlled diabetes suffer greater risk of gum disease than either patients with the condition well-controlled or those without diabetes. So if a patient is on the cusp or at high risk of developing the disease this can impact on oral health as well as impacting on the body as a whole.

So it would make sense for dentists to take the time to include an initial risk assessment as part of the medical history check for either new patients or those attending for review.

A study by King's College Dental Institute in London has been monitoring the effect of screening at dental practices. What they found is that 60 percent of patients advised to contact their doctors, because of high levels of glucose or because they had been assessed as being at high risk, did so.

The study used the Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC) questionnaire, an online assessment tool to rate the risk level of the patient. You can find the website here. If a patient was high risk then they would be offered the HbA1c finger-prick blood test . They were also recommended to see their own doctor.

The study recognised that if this were to be taken up then it would result in an additional workload; especially as in the study there were follow up phone calls to check to see if patients had contacted their own GPs. This, of course, would have had a positive effect on the percentage of patients who took positive action.

Kathryn Bould, who was a researcher on the study commented:

[W]e were overwhelmed by the number of patients who were keen to get screened and their positive feedback about the screening test afterwards. We were worried that a lot of patients would turn down the finger-prick test (especially those who were fearful of needles), but to our surprise, the uptake rates of both the self-report and finger-prick tests were impressive. In fact, we had to change the study inclusion criteria to accommodate additional patients who asked us to take part. The second surprising finding was how easily and seamlessly we managed to fit this into the dental practices who helped us. The dental team feedback was exceptionally positive.