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March 27: Diabetes Alert Day and Dentistry's Role in Diabetes Awareness

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Approximately 10.5% of the U.S. population has type 2 diabetes. Managing diabetes is difficult and requires carefully monitoring blood sugar and a lifestyle balance comprised of healthy eating, exercise, and regular check-ups with primary care physicians. Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. Young adults with diabetes are twice as likely to develop periodontal diseases as young adults without diabetes. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, this statistic is staggering because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections, and periodontal diseases may create additional barriers for controlling blood sugar levels. Dentists, as part of multidisciplinary team-based care, can assist patients at risk for or who have diabetes. 

The last Tuesday of March is Diabetes Alert Day; this year it falls on March 27. The American Diabetes Association Alert Day is a “call-to-action” asking the American people to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In 2017, for the first time, the American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes included a “Screening in Dental Practices” section to improve chairside screening and referral to primary care for diagnosing diabetes. Diabetes screening can also be taught to dental students. For example, through a pilot program started in 2014, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry taught second-year dental students how to measure the blood glucose levels of university dental clinic patients. Moreover, the University of Maryland also offers continuing education for dentists on medical billing for oral health services and billable procedures for diabetes screenings. Through these efforts, dentists and dental educators have become a stronger force in mitigating the increase of diabetes through screening and referral. Take action and get screened for diabetes on March 27!

Published on March 14, 2018

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