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Dentists' Findings Identify Unaware Patients With Diabetes

Oral/periodontal findings can be used to identify unrecognized diabetes or pre-diabetes

FRIDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Dental professionals can identify pre-diabetes and diabetes in unaware individuals through simple screening approaches, including oral and periodontal findings, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Dental Research.

Evanthia Lalla, D.D.S., from the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues used simple screenings and oral findings to identify unrecognized diabetes and pre-diabetes in 601 individuals presenting at a dental clinic. Participants, who were not aware whether or not they had diabetes or pre-diabetes, included non-Hispanic whites aged 40 years or older and Hispanics or non-whites aged 30 years or older. Periodontal examinations and point-of-care hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tests were provided to 535 individuals who reported at least one diabetes risk factor. A fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test was used to identify diabetes and pre-diabetes, and simple models of dysglycemia (FPG ≥100mg/dL) identification were evaluated and optimal cut-offs identified.

The investigators found an estimated area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) of 0.65 when two dental variables were included, which improved to 0.79 after the addition of the point-of-care HbA1c test. A total of 73 percent of true cases with diabetes were identified by the presence of 26 percent or more deep pockets or four or more missing teeth. The correct identification of diabetes increased to 92 percent after adding HbA1c levels of 5.7 percent or more.

"Dental professionals, using a simple screening approach which includes oral/periodontal findings, have an unrealized capability to assume an active role in identifying patients at risk for, or impacted by, diabetes, and to direct them to receive appropriate care," the authors write.

The study was funded by Colgate-Palmolive.

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