People with uncontrolled diabetes are at greater risk for several oral health problems, particularly periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease also impacts diabetes control. Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are recommended to prevent and manage oral health problems. Several studies have been conducted to assess the oral health knowledge, attitudes, and practices of people with diabetes yet a review of these findings has not yet been undertaken. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize current evidence on the knowledge, attitudes and practices of people with diabetes in relation to their oral health care.
A systematic search of all literature was carried out in five databases using key search terms. The inclusion criteria were: 1) published in the English language; 2) from 2000 to November, 2017; 3) conducted on persons with any type of diabetes and of all ages; 4) explored at least one study outcome (knowledge or attitude or practices toward oral health care); and 5) used quantitative methods of data collection. No restrictions were placed on the quality and setting of the study.
A total of 28 studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies included a total of 27,894 people with diabetes and were conducted in 14 countries. The review found that people with diabetes have inadequate oral health knowledge, poor oral health attitudes, and fewer dental visits. They rarely receive oral health education and dental referrals from their care providers. Provision of oral health education by diabetes care providers and referral to dentists when required, was associated with improved oral health behaviours among patients.
Overall, people with diabetes have limited oral health knowledge and poor oral health behaviours. It is therefore essential to educate patients about their increased risk for oral health problems, motivate them for good oral health behaviours and facilitate access to dental care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (10.1186/s12889-018-5485-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.