Dentists say new system of risk profiling patients may act as early warning system for chronic diseases.
New IDA President says system needed to tackle health time bomb of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Thursday April 21st 2016. The Irish Dental Association has said a new system of risk profiling patients by dentists could significantly reduce the impact of systemic disease on oral health.
Describing type 2 diabetes and obesity as ticking health bombs, the newly elected President of the IDA, Dr PJ Byrne, said dentists could play a key role in improving general health by identifying common risk factors and reducing the impact of these diseases.
Over 500 delegates at the Association’s annual conference in Galway were told that the new risk profile document would be ready for use at dental clinics all over the country in a matter of months.
But Dr Byrne warned that putting a systematic process in place to capture the relevant information was just the first step. He said there also had to be follow through with other medical professionals, especially doctors.
“Dentists see patients with pre-diabetic conditions, often unknowingly, on a regular basis. In many cases this is manifest in poorly controlled periodontal (gum) conditions. They point out the danger signs to the patient and advise patients to follow it up with their GP. It is often many years later that the patient attends again, having been diagnosed with diabetes.”
“Previously research was lacking and dentists weren’t sure about the links between chronic diseases that are inflammation based such as lung disease, arthritis, Crohn’s disease and gum disease. Now, through extensive research we know the links are there. When dentists are carrying out their examinations they very often can see the early warning signs in the gum condition. Gum disease shares many common risk factors with diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardio vascular disease” he added.
The new President said that at present there is no systematic way of recording, using, sharing or following up on this information. The Association said it will shortly publish a one page risk profile document which it will encourage all dentists and dental hygienists to use.
Dr Byrne said the IDA would be very keen to meet with doctors to explore how both professions can work better together on behalf of our patients.
“If a patient suffers from arthritis or other chronic inflammation based diseases, it is very likely they may also have gum disease. An integrated treatment programme which addresses chronic diseases such as diabetes or other inflammation based chronic conditions and gum disease will lead to better outcomes for the patient” he concluded.
It is important to recognise that by risk profiling our patients in terms of gum disease that the patient may present with multiple risk factors, such as smoking, stress, and obesity etc which add to the risk of gum disease. The presence of gum disease may also itself make it more difficult to control many medical conditions especially diabetes.
Professor Bob Genco, a leading American authority on the links between gum disease and chronic disease has backed the IDA’s approach. Dr Genco who previously addressed the IDA conference in Killarney nearly 20 years ago, addressing the Irish Dental Association Annual Scientific Conference in Galway today, said there was a compelling argument for proactive common risk factor management by dental professionals. He said when this happens it can result in better general health as well as in better oral health.