Diabetes and Oral Health

02 Feb 2024
Paige Cowan-Hall

Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes and oral health:

C3 partnered with the Burdett Trust for Nursing to reduce the prevalence of type 2 Diabetes by engaging and training nurses on the bi-directional relationship between type 2 diabetes and oral health. Exploring barriers and ways to better enable to nurses address type 2 diabetes and poor oral health. 

 The aim was to: 
  • Increase nurses’ knowledge and awareness of the bi-directional relationship between type 2 diabetes and oral health. 
  • Explore how to enable nurses to enhance their role in addressing oral health. 
  • Create recommendations with nurses to help them integrate oral health into diabetes prevention. 
  • Present recommendations to UK policymakers, nurse leaders, and nurse training institutions and develop a dialogue on the role of nurses in addressing oral health in type 2 diabetes prevention. 

Educational and training programme:

C3 collaborated with Learn With Nurses and Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation to deliver a series of training and engagement events to nurses on oral health and Type 2 diabetes. Speakers included; 

  • Jill Iliffe RGN BAS RM, MIntS, IDMHHRL, Executive Secretary Commonwealth Nursing & Midwifery Federation. 
  • Judy Downey RGN BSc (Hons) is a Diabetes Specialist Nurse, working in secondary care, primary care, and the pharmaceutical industry, and is an Associate Lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University. 
  • Michaela Nuttall RGN MSc Founder and Director Learn With Nurses is a cardiovascular nurse specialist.
  • Christine Hancock C3’s Founder, is a nurse leader with years of experience working in the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and International Council of Nurses (ICN) as well as CEO in London’s NHS.

The events:

Webinar: Why should nurses look in mouths? 

Jill Iliffe discusses the importance of oral health, its link with general health and wellbeing, and why nurses and midwives should engage in oral health promotion and disease prevention. The session also includes details on the why, how, and when of oral health assessment, an overview of the anatomy of the oral cavity, the prevalence of oral disease, and the shared risk factors for oral disease and NCD.

Webinar: Diabetes and oral health: A two-way relationship 

This interactive session delivered by Judy Downey outlines the bi-directional relationship between diabetes and poor oral health. It covers common oral health issues (e.g. cavity, gingivitis, periodontal gum disease), how diabetes and poor oral health are linked, and why it is important to assess and address oral health as part of diabetes care. 

In-conversation: Advertising and its impact on our mouth 

Michaela Nuttall and Jill Iliffe deliver an insightful discussion on the social determinants of health focusing on the influence of advertising and highlighting: 

  • The impact of inequalities on oral health – why oral health outcomes are unequal across populations. 
  • The impact of advertising on oral health – advertising of food, beverages, and oral hygiene products. 
  • Practical solutions to level the playing field and a role for nurses and midwives. 

In-conversation: Nurses discuss diabetes, oral health and general health relationship 

In this in-conversation session, Jill Iliffe and Judy Downey discuss the association of oral health with general health and diabetes. The session includes explanations as to the impact of oral disease leading to systemic complications and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Judy and Jill also discuss the unique position of nurses and midwives to raise awareness about the importance of oral health and provide oral health education to communities.

In-conversation: When and why should nurses look in mouths? 

During this in-conversation session, Judy Downey and Michaela Nuttall discuss mouth care and diabetes including what nurses should look for, why nurses don’t look in mouths and the challenges and opportunities for promoting oral health.  

In-conversation: Why doesn’t everyone brush their teeth? 

Christine Hancock  is joined by Jill Iliffe to discuss why people don’t brush their teeth.

In-conversation: Oral Health – should we leave it all to the dentists? 

In this session, Michaela Nuttall and Judy Downey talk about why oral health should be everyone’s business and discuss barriers to nurses implementing oral health such as nurses’ workload and capacity. The discussion also touches on whether dentists look for diabetes.

Nursing symposium 

Nurses on the front line making a difference to non-communicable disease 

In September 2023 C3 and Burdett Trust for Nurses collaborated on hosting an in-person event for nurses to discuss NCDs; and what nurses are doing in tackling them. C3’s Associate in Nursing, Michaela Nuttall presented at a round table event about this project, and C3’s director Christine Hancock outlined the scale of the issue worldwide. 

Round table 

In November 2023 C3 convened a round table discussion at the headquarters of Diabetes UK in London to discuss issues around integrating oral health checks into routine diabetes checks; and embedding oral health into nursing education. 

The round table discussion was framed around three questions: 

  • How do we make oral health everyone’s business?  
  • Why does oral health matter for people living with type 2 diabetes?  
  • How do we influence policy? 

Recommendations for policymakers and nurse leaders:

    • Create a coherent, clear, and consistent message about oral health for people living with type 2 diabetes. 
    • Identify organisations, leaders, and stakeholders to promote the oral health message. 
    • Scope the landscape for existing resources that may support nurses to integrate oral health assessment into their routine care. 
    • Advocate for making oral health an essential aspect of healthcare for patients with type 2 diabetes. 
    • Provide brief training opportunities for nurses across multiple platforms such as master classes or bite-size videos with opportunities for reflection and certificate of attendance to support nurses’ revalidation. 
    • Embed oral healthcare into nursing curriculums within existing life course modules, not as a standalone module. 
    • Encourage nurses to keep questions simple with patients living with type 2 diabetes such as: ‘Do you brush your teeth?’ 
    • Ensure nurses know where they can signpost patients with type 2 diabetes. 

     Find out about C3’s other nursing and health professional programmes by visiting our nursing webpage!