Plan to tackle ‘ticking time bomb’

IDA president reveals strategy for dentists to help their patients in the fight against diabetes

The president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) revealed a new diabetes risk-profiling system that he says will help tackle the “ticking time bomb” of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Speaking at the recent IDA Annual Conference in Galway, Dr PJ Byrne said the association was close to publishing a one-page risk-profiling system that would be available for use at clinics all over the country.

Speaking to delegates at the Radisson Hotel, Dr Byrne said: “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.”

Dr Byrne also said that he would be keen to meet with doctors leaders to explore how the two professions could work together on this and other issues.

“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 said.