A trip to the dentist may have health benefits that stretch beyond of oral hygiene. A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that dental visits may allow for diabetes screening and monitoring glucose control in at-risk patients.
Study results showed that using gingival crevicular blood, collected during dental visits, for HbA1c testing produced values that were nearly identical to those obtained using finger stick blood. Correlation was 0.991 between the HbA1c values from both types of blood samples, and measures of concurrence between tests were notably high for elevated HbA1c and diabetes-range HbA1c levels, according to the data.
The study included samples from 408 adults who either had or were at risk for 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,” principal investigator Shiela M. Strauss, PhD, associate professor of nursing and co-director of the Statistics and Data Management Core for New York University’s Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry, said in a press release.
The researchers found that undiagnosed people aged at least 45 years may benefit most from the additional screening, while HbA1c testing may help determine glycemic control in those already diagnosed with diabetes.
“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,” Dr. Strauss said.