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Online course covers dentistry, diabetes

May 26, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

When Dr. Cesar Sabates noticed a patient was slow to heal after a routine extraction, he wanted to find out more about him.
"After asking him several questions, I suspected that he may have diabetes and referred him for testing," said Dr. Sabates, a Florida dentist and the chair of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations. "The patient was very grateful for my referral and concern and it did indeed turn out that he had diabetes."
To help other dentists understand the signs, symptoms, risk factors and systematic complications of diabetes, CAPIR has developed an online course, "Diabetes Mellitus and the Dental Professional." It is available at by searching for the course title.

Dr. Sabates

Dr. Brown
With an estimated 29.1 million people in the U.S. — or 9.3 percent of the population — living with diabetes, it is likely dentists are regularly treating patients with the disease.
"Many patients visit the dentist more often than they visit their primary health provider. It is often the dentist that identifies early signs and symptoms of diabetes and makes the appropriate referral to a health care provider," Dr. Sabates said.
The course will summarize the evidence-based relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes and will note special considerations involved in treating these patients, in addition to other topics.
By treating and controlling periodontal diseases, dentists play a critical role in a collaborative medical team approach in the care and management of diabetics, said Dr. Tim Fagan, chair of CAPIR's interprofessional relations subcommittee.
"All health care providers can play a role in diabetes primary prevention and diabetes management," Dr. Fagan said. "Research has shown that people with diabetes may be at increased risk of gingivitis and periodontitis, that periodontal disease may affect blood glucose levels, and that treatment of chronic periodontal disease may help improve glycemic control."
Dr. Jerry Brown, a retired clinical dentist who is the first health professional with a dental degree to earn board certification as a Certified Diabetes Educator from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators, is an author of the CE course. The second section of the video features Jordan Ashton, D.O., a Wisconsin-based physician who focuses on preventive medicine; and Dr. Srinivas Challa, a dentist who works with Dr. Ashton on a bidirectional referral project for patients with diabetes.  
Dr. Brown, who has Type 1 diabetes and is outspoken about educating dentists on the topic, spoke with the members of CAPIR at their January meeting.  Dr. Sabates said developing this course is one of the ways the council moves toward its goal of addressing issues that help both ADA members and "the overall health care of our nation."
Two CE credits are available for the course. For more information about this and other ADA CE courses, visit The ADA Science Institute has compiled a list of resources regarding diabetes and oral health. Visit the website.