Diabetes Testing at the Dentist’s Office
04 May 2015

Diabetes Testing at the Dentist’s Office

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in February, a visit to the dentist could be another opportunity to screen patients for diabetes. Doctors found that using gingival crevicular blood for hemoglobin A1c testing produced results nearly identical to those obtained using finger stick blood, the test generally used to diagnose diabetes.

“In light of findings from the study, the dental visit could be a useful opportunity to conduct diabetes screening among at-risk, undiagnosed patients — an important first step in identifying those who need further testing to determine their diabetes status,” Shiela Strauss, PhD, MA, BS, the study’s principal investigator and co-director of the Statistics and Data Management Core for NYU’s Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing, said.

The study, called “The Potential for Glycemic Control Monitoring and Screening for Diabetes at Dental Visits Using Oral Blood,” adds to the previous research that has considered the acceptability to use oral blood to screen for the disease. Dental visits could be potential opportunities for diabetes screening and monitoring glucose control, researchers said. Although many Americans visit their dental providers annually, they might not be seeing primary care providers as frequently. Patients who are at least 45 and older could particularly benefit from this type of screening.

The study included 408 adults with or at risk for diabetes and performed hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tests on dried blood samples of gingival crevicular blood and compared these with paired gold-standard HbA1c tests with dried finger-stick blood samples. They also examined differences in sociodemographics and diabetes-related risk and healthcare characteristics for three groups of at-risk patients.

Researchers estimate 8.1 million of the 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes are undiagnosed, with many who have diabetes also having inadequate glycemic control. One out of 3 adults has prediabetes, according to the CDC. Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, the CDC states, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes in five years.

“Our study has considerable public health significance because we identify the value and importance of capitalizing on an opportunity at the dental visit (a) to screen at-risk, but as yet undiagnosed patients for diabetes (especially those 45 years or older), and (b) to monitor glycemic control in those already diagnosed so as to enable them to maintain their health to the greatest extent possible,” Strauss said.

Study recruitment, participation, and data collection took place in the comprehensive care clinics at the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) from June 2013 to April 2014 and funding for this study was provided by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.


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