The future of diabetes screening may be sitting in the dentist chair. A new field trial study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reports that screening in dental practices may be feasible.

“Screening for diabetes and pre-diabetes in the dental office may provide an important benefit to patients and encourage inter-professional collaboration to achieve a chronic care model in which healthcare professionals work together to care for a panel of patients,” the study says.

At-risk people who visit the dental office on a regular basis could benefit from this screening process because some may see the dentist more often than their primary physician.

ADA guidelines recommend diabetes screening for people at least 45 years old with a BMI greater than 25 and for those under 45 years old who have a BMI greater than 25 plus at least one diabetes risk factor.

Screening process

  • A traditional finger prick.

  • Test blood oozing from the gums during the dental exam.

  • Saliva swab.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College discovered that diabetes screenings may be possible using a swab of a person’s saliva. Results showed that those with diabetes have a reduced amount of a sugar-like substance called 1,5,-AG in their saliva. “To make this study happen we needed saliva, blood, and urine samples from patients with diabetes, but also from people without diabetes,” said Dr. Mohamed Moly, senior consultant in the dermatology clinic at HMC, who hopes for further research in the future.

Who knows? Maybe next time you're sitting in the dentist’s chair getting a dental exam, you may also be screened for diabetes.

To learn more on this topic:
Dental Care and Diabetes
The Importance of Oral Health when You Have Diabetes
Should You Brush Your Teeth After a Nighttime Hypo?