A Special Note of Welcome to Diabetes Educators
Diabetes educators are uniquely positioned to educate individuals with diabetes about periodontal disease.
Longitudinal data from numerous studies suggest that people with diabetes are at significantly greater risk for periodontal disease. Research findings also suggest that untreated periodontal disease may increase the risk of worsening glycemic control over time. Although inconclusive, some evidence suggests that treatment of periodontal disease may improve glycemic control. Experts have even proposed that evidence of this bi-directional relationship is so strong that periodontal disease should be considered the sixth complication of diabetes.
Given the epidemic magnitude of diabetes, and the high incidence of periodontal disease in this population, the bi-directional relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease must be recognized in the long term management of diabetes. This provides a compelling rationale for integrating dentists and dental hygienists into the Diabetes Healthcare Team, and building collaborative relationships between oral healthcare providers, and those healthcare providers who have traditionally cared for patients with diabetes.
And finally, there are unprecedented opportunities for diabetes educators and dental hygienists to teach and learn from one another – to look for possible areas where scope overlap and working across traditional practice boundaries may produce integrated services that provide continuity of care and improve patient outcomes. A wonderful example of this is bi-lateral point-of-care screening and referral. Diabetes educators could screen patients for periodontal disease, and refer them to oral healthcare providers, and dental hygienists could patients for diabetes and refer them to appropriate medical providers. This type of collaboration provides many opportunities for cross- reinforcement of patient education, self-care instructions, and life style modifications recommended by other disciplines. For example, consider the role of dental hygienists in monitoring and reinforcing the ABCs (HbA1c, blood pressure, cholesterol) of diabetes management.
Plans are now underway to develop a best practice model for collaboration between diabetes educators and dental hygienists. In the meantime, please take advantage of information listed in the library of free resources where you can learn more about periodontal disease and its relationship to diabetes. I also invite you to take any of the courses in our e-Learning Center at www.oralhealthed.com. I welcome your ideas, and hope you might take a moment to contact me. Thanks for visiting our website.