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6 Tips on Caring for Patients with Diabetes

Diabetes is on the rise in the United States, as this chronic disease touches the lives of both adults and children

Diabetes is on the rise in the United States, as this chronic disease touches the lives of both adults and children. Because it is common, clinicians are likely to encounter patients with type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes throughout their careers. Oral health professionals can play a role in supporting the health of patients with diabetes in the following ways.

1. Assess Diabetes Control

Ask the patient about his or her most recent hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels. Understanding a patient’s glycemic control provides valuable information on how well the patient is managing the disease.

2. Measure Blood Glucose Levels

Perform a chairside blood glucose testing with a finger prick prior to providing treatment to confirm levels are in the correct range.

3. Have They Eaten?

Confirm they’ve had breakfast prior to the visit, as maintaining safe blood glucose levels is essential to patients with diabetes. Oral health professionals should recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia.

4. Ask About Mouth Discomfort

Check in with your patient to determine if he or she is experiencing any mouth pain, such as mouth sores, burning mouth syndrome, or xerostomia. Evaluating for these conditions provides insight as to whether a patient is adequately controlling his or her diabetes.

5. Medications

Ensure the patient has taken all required medications prior to the dental appointment.

6. Schedule Checkups

Like many people, those with diabetes may not realize the role oral health plays in overall systemic health. Patients with diabetes are at higher risk for caries and periodontal disease. Reminding patients to schedule dental checkups twice a year will reinforce the importance of attending regularly scheduled dental visits.

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