The Link Between Oral Health, General Health in Patients with Diabetes

Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

Study examines whether implementing an oral care protocol for general practitioners can improve patient-centered outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

A research team from the University of Amsterdam developed an intervention to offer primary care-based oral health information and dental referrals for patients with diabetes.1

The study authors sought to analyze whether implementing an oral care protocol for general practitioners can improve patient-centered outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D).2

A clustered, randomized controlled trial examined 764 patients from 24 primary care practices who received either oral health support or standard primary care. The main outcome parameter was oral health-related quality of life (QoL) that was assessed with the 14-item Oral Health Impact Profile at baseline and again a year later. Other outcomes included self-reported oral health complaints and general health-related QoL.1,2

The analysis showed that individuals who received a primary care-based oral health support intervention had a significant improvement in self-reported oral health quality of life compared with the control group. Among 764 patients with T2D, 71.1% completed the 1-year follow-up.

Further, more patients reported improved oral health-related QoL in the experimental group (35.2%) compared to the control group. The improvement of self-reported oral health complaints did not differ between groups.1,2

The study authors concluded that the implementation of an oral care protocol in primary diabetes care improved oral health related QoL in patients with T2D.

“Patients with type 2 diabetes who attend primary diabetes care can benefit from extra attention to oral health," the researchers said in a press release. "It also further reflects the concept of oral health and general health being connected."1,2

REFERENCES

  1. Study examines connection between oral and general health in patients with diabetes. EurekAlert! Published May 11, 2021. Accessed May 17, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/aaof-sec051121.php
  2. Verhulst MJL, Teeuw WJ, Gerdes VEA, Loos BG. Implementation of an Oral Care Protocol for Primary Diabetes Care: A Pilot Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial. The Annals of Family Medicine May 2021, 19 (3) 197-206; DOI:10.1370/afm.2645.