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Diabetes - Can Your Dentist Uncover Your Secret? Dentists Can Screen for Diabetes August 10, 2011 Dr. David Leader, Yahoo! Contributor Network Diabetes is the decreased ability of the body to process sugar. People who have diabetes have a shorter life expectancy. They are much more prone to infection and disease. Their medical costs are much higher than similar non-diabetic patients. The cost of treatment for diabetes is staggering. 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes. About 7 million people who have diabetes are undiagnosed. Data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (American Diabetes Association, www.diabetes.org , released Jan. 26, 2011) How can a visit to your dentist help? The January 2011, cover of the Journal of the American Dental Association illustrates a creative study by three investigators from the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr Shanshan Li, a physician, Dr Paige Williams, a biostatistician, and Dr Chester Douglas, a dentist. These doctors developed simple guidelines to enable dentists to identify patients who are likely to have diabetes. Is it practical for dentists to follow this guideline? How will patients benefit from this procedure? Dentistry and Medicine are very closely related professions. In some countries, dentists are physicians who specialize in oral health. In United States dental schools, dental students study most of the same basic science courses as medical students. Students at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine spend increasing time in their 4 years course of study learning about medicine, health, and the relationship between oral health and disease. Dental students frequently consult physicians and other medical personnel. Dentists often uncover serious medical conditions before medical doctors are able to. Most people visit their dentist more often than their medical doctors. Some medical conditions present in ways that dentists are better able to discover. For example, Scleroderma is an auto-immune disease that affects approximately 300,000 Americans. One of the signs of this disease is that teeth become loose due to a change in the tissue that holds the teeth into the bone. Dentists are the only healthcare professionals that are likely or able to discover this condition. Published by Dr. David Leader Dave Leader is an Associate Clinical Professor at Tufts Dental School in Boston, and a family dentist in Malden, Ma. Dr Leader is the Chairman of the Council on Dental Benefit Programs of the Massachusetts.

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