Dentists can help catch undiagnosed diabetes.
Dr Hatem Algraffee demonstrates how to perform a dental procedure at the workshop.
Dentists are ideally placed to spot undiagnosed cases of diabetes because of an often overlooked link between diabetes and gum disease, a two-day practical workshop held at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) was told. Visiting expert Dr Hatem Algraffee, a specialist periodontist and lecturer based in London, explained that diabetes patients have an increased risk of suffering from gum disease. Dr Algraffee said: "The prevalence of diabetes across the Gulf region is high and growing, and it is estimated that up to 40% of cases remain undiagnosed. Because gum disease is more common among diabetes patients, dentists have a key role to play to identify those who might have undiagnosed diabetes. Dentists should refer patients with gum disease to physicians to be tested for diabetes, and physicians should refer diabetes patients to dentist to help treat or prevent gum disease." The workshop offered dentists, dental nurses, dental assistants and oral hygienists practical instruction on a wide range of issues related to periodontal disease. These included how to screen and assess patients with periodontal disease, how to identify a tooth affected by periodontal disease, and strategies for co-ordinating successful treatment plans. There were also discussions about the prevalence of diabetes and its association with periodontal disease and a demonstration of techniques that can be used to address periodontal disease. This included a demonstration of crown lengthening, a key surgical procedure in which gum tissue surrounding a tooth is carefully incised to expose more of the tooth and allow for it to be repaired. Periodontal disease is extremely widespread and is estimated to be one of the ten most prevalent diseases globally. Dr Algraffee explained that more than 80% of people worldwide are affected by some form of gum disease including gingivitis, with around 15% of the population suffering from advanced gum disease. He said that the most important factor to protect one's dental health is to find a dentist and have regular check-ups, in addition to brushing well two times each day. He also said that seeing a dental hygienist is important, and that Qatar has recently invested in training hygienists.
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