Join Forces to Fight Diabetes
November is designated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as American Diabetes Month.
November is designated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as American Diabetes Month. Dental hygienists are familiar with the adverse effects of diabetes, including diseases of the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and much more. Of course, we are especially attuned to the oral effects of diabetes, most notably periodontal diseases. As oral health professionals, we are uniquely positioned to raise awareness about the risk factors for diabetes and to impact the incidence of this debilitating disease.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the US. One in 10 Americans have diabetes—that’s more than 30 million people.1 And another 84 million US adults are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.1Dental hygienists typically provide professional care at least twice a year, so we can help change these statistics and improve the overall health of our patients. A plethora of resources are available that provide information about diabetes and offer patient education materials. Here are a few of the nationally known and recognized organizations that provide current, evidence-based recommendations:
- HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
- American Diabetes Association
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE)—diabeteseducator.org—is another resource. The AADE is a multidisciplinary organization that strives to improve diabetes care through education, management, and support. With more than 14,000 members, the organization provides continuing education discounts, online courses and webinars, and reduced rates for its annual meeting. Beyond just membership in the AADE, oral health professionals can take the additional, but rather difficult, step to become a certified diabetes educator (CDE). Dental hygienists and dentists are not listed as health professionals who meet the qualification under discipline requirements. However, they can apply under the “unique qualifications pathway.” This route involves more patient contact time and continuing education requirements than the traditional pathway. One dentist I know took nearly 3 years to meet the requisite number of hours to sit for the CDE certification exam. More information is available at the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators: ncbde.org.
As more patients are diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, it seems natural for dental hygienists and diabetes educators of all disciplines to join forces. We all want the same outcome: fewer individuals who experience the adverse effects caused by diabetes. Until such partnership takes
- United States Department of Health and Human Services. American Diabetes Month. Available at:healthfinder.gov/NHO/novAnnounce.aspx. Accessed October 23, 2017.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. November 2017;15(11):6.