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WVU School of Dentistry’s Mesaros Symposium addressed the impact of diabetes on oral health

Healthcare providers working collaboratively to address wellness concern

According to the 2018 America’s Health Rankings, 15 percent of West Virginia adults reported that a health professional diagnosed them with diabetes. That rate is approximately two to five percent higher than reported instances in the surrounding states of Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia that same year.

Over the past 25 years, a substantial body of evidence has been collected demonstrating the strong association of poor oral health, specifically periodontal disease, with the clinical development of diabetes and its effects on the ability for a patient with diabetes to manage the disease.

At the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, the Mesaros Symposium returned with an impressive list of speakers who addressed diabetes and the relationship with poor oral health.

The one-day symposium, supported through the Drs. Paul and Laura Mesaros lectureship endowment, brought family medicine, research and oral health experts together to emphasize the need for providers, across disciplines, to work together in diagnosing and treating both diabetes and periodontal disease .

Drs. Mark Cucuzella, Wenche Borgnakke and Ira Lamster
Drs. Mark Cucuzella, Wenche Borgnakke and Ira Lamster.
(Pictured at top with Drs. Fotinos Panagakos and Tom Borgia.)

The symposium, “Periodontal Disease and Diabetes: Update and Interprofessional Management,” included guest presenters Wenche Borgnakke, D.D.S., Ph.D., Mark Cucuzzella, M.D. and Ira B. Lamster, D.D.S., M.M.Sc.

Borgnakke, a senior research associate in health sciences at University of Michigan School of Dentistry, spoke on the biological basis of how periodontal disease and diabetes have a two-way relationship.

She cited a number of clinical studies which support this association through the reduction of HbA1c levels, an important serum marker of blood glucose management, following periodontal treatment. Borgnakke stressed the importance of addressing periodontal disease as part of a comprehensive approach to the management of diabetes.

Cucuzzella, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at West Virginia University’s Eastern Campus, addressed the importance of nutrition in the management of diabetes, the role of healthcare providers to work collaboratively in addressing their patients with diabetes, and the impact dental professionals can have improving the overall wellness of patients with diabetes. Cucuzzella provided clear evidence of the impact reducing carbohydrates in the diet can have in the management of diabetes.

Lamster, dean emeritus and professor of dental medicine at Columbia University and a clinical professor at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, explained how dental professionals could have a significant and positive effect on the oral and general health of patients with diabetes through early screening of diabetes and prediabetes in the dental office, followed by referral to a medical professional. Research conducted by Lamster and colleagues demonstrated how the use of a chairside HbA1c test in dental offices, and confirmed by a fasting plasma glucose test, was able to identify 35% of all subjects in the research study had either diabetes or prediabetes. These individuals had not known of their condition prior to the study.

“The Mesaros Lectureship returned to WVU today (April 3) after a short hiatus. We were fortunate to have three preeminent clinicians and researchers deliver a very timely and impactful program. The takeaway message from the program is that healthcare providers must work collaboratively to address diabetes in our patients if we are to be successful in reducing the levels of the disease within West Virginia and return our patients to a state of wellness,” said Fotinos Panagakos, D.M.D, Ph.D., School of Dentistry Associate Dean of Research.

There were more than 190 attendees at the event held at the Erickson Alumni Center.

The Mesaros Symposium is a continuing education course for physicians and dentists. Upcoming continuing education opportunities are available on the School’s website.

Photos from the Mesaros Symposium are also online.