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Dent Today. 2011 Dec;30(12):45-6, 48-50; quiz 51.

Diabetes mellitus: update and relevance for dentistry.

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  • 1Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, NY, NY, USA. da2281@columbia.edu


In light of growing evidence of the association between oral and nonoral diseases, some investigators believe that oral disease is a clinically useful predictor of nonoral conditions in certain individuals. As the dental profession has become more involved in treating medically compromised patients, dentistry has gone from being an "oral health profession" to being part of the general health team. As a result, a partnership between dentists and physicians that involves an expanded notion of oral-medical communication during the course of treating such patients should be embraced in order to better serve these patients. Michael Glick, senior editor of the Journal of the American Dental Association, believes that oral health providers should take an active role in screening certain groups for common medical conditions, ie, to check the patient's blood pressure, plasma glucose, and cholesterol for indications of heart disease and DM. Furthermore, dentists can be part of the diabetic patient's support network by becoming actively involved in monitoring blood glucose levels and blood pressure, as well as reminding patients of the importance of having their regular medical exams. Dentists are not going to diagnose or treat a systemic disease, but early detection will certainly result in better medical and dental outcomes. It is the dentist's role to be a part of the healthcare team in order to help reduce the incidence and adverse impact of diabetes.

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