Clinical guidelines recently released by the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) emphasise the importance of periodontal health for people with diabetes, which affects about 246 million people worldwide.
World Diabetes Day (WDD) on November 14 shone a spotlight on the condition, with iconic buildings such as the London Eye, lit up with the blue WDD circle logo.
Founded by the IDF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991, WDD aims to raise awareness of diabetes. This year sees the first of a five year campaign addressing the growing need for diabetes education and prevention programmes.
The new IDF oral health clinical guidelines support research which suggests that the management of periodontal disease which affects the gums and other supporting tissues around the teeth can help reduce the risk of a person developing diabetes and can also help those with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
The IDF guideline contains clinical recommendations on periodontal care, written in collaboration with the World Dental Federation (FDI). These encourage health professionals to look out for symptoms of periodontal disease such as swollen or red gums, bleeding during tooth brushing and to educate patients with diabetes about the implications of the condition on oral health.
“Educating people about the risk factors of diabetes and promoting action to encourage early diagnosis, is vital in tackling the worldwide diabetes epidemic,” said Sir Michael Hirst, president elect of the IDF.
Samuel Low, associate dean and professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, also emphasised prevention.
He said: “Everyone should maintain healthy teeth and gums to avoid periodontal disease, but people with diabetes should pay extra attention.”
“Periodontal disease triggers the body’s inflammatory responses, which can affect insulin sensitivity and ultimately lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels. Establishing routine periodontal care is one way to help keep diabetes under control.”
He added: “I know that these clinical recommendations will be helpful for those professionals who work with and treat people with diabetes. I also encourage the medical and dental communities to work together to provide the best possible care for our patients.”
In the UK alone, diabetic diagnosis has increased from 1.4 million in 1996, to 2.5 million in 2008. By 2025, there are predicted to be more than four million people with diabetes in the UK. It also is estimated that there are around half a million people currently living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes in the UK.
Viggo Mortensen is UK and Ireland vice president of global healthcare company, Novo Nordisk, which help sponsor WDD. He said “As a world leader in diabetes care, we are truly committed to defeating this disease. Promoting greater awareness of the risk factors for diabetes and encouraging best practice sharing in diabetes prevention and management is key to achieving this.”
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