Study Outcomes

Melbourne Dental School News Item 15 Oct 2020

Dental surgery could play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes

Oral health professionals could become a key element in the battle against type 2 diabetes, according to a new study conducted by public health researchers at the Melbourne Dental School.

A four-year project lead by Professor Rodrigo Mariño, Professor of Population Oral Health, has investigated the role that Oral Health Professionals could play in the early detection of diabetes.

An estimated 1.8 million Australians live with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which is the seventh most common cause of death by disease in this country. Around half a million of those living with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed.

Professor Mariño said the study explored the important role that oral health professionals could have in screening patients for pre-diabetes or undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. In Victoria, 51 oral healthcare practices participated, with 801 of their patients recruited to take part in the study.

“This research highlights the impact that collaboration between oral health professionals and other health professionals can have in identifying diabetes, which is one of Australia’s most serious public health challenges.”

“The project found that screening programs for type 2 diabetes in the Oral healthcare settings could be highly effective. However, effective implementation must include developing referral pathways, both to and from GPs, as well as follow-ups.”

The project was funded by Colgate-Palmolive Pty Limited and sponsored by eviDent Foundation.

Professor Mariño paid tribute to the multi-disciplinary research team, including Dr Andre Priede (a dentist and diabetes educator), Mr Geoff Adams (statistician and epidemiologist) , Ms Michelle King (public health researcher), and Ms Maria Sicari (research assistant), as well as all the oral health professionals and dental practices that participated in this study. He also recognised the contribution of colleagues in the Department of General Practice, MDHS, University of Melbourne.

Professor Mariño noted that the work was a great example of the impact that public health dentistry could have on broader health challenges.