February 13, 2012

A1c screening by your dentist someday

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It’s a forward-looking statement¬†but blood from periodontal disease may someday be used to screen for diabetes, according to a new study from NYU researchers. The findings were published in November 2011 in the Journal of Periodontology.

As if periodontal disease isn’t bad enough news, now researchers have found that oral blood samples drawn from deep pockets of periodontal inflammation can be used to measure hemoglobin A1c. As those of us know, the hemoglobin A1c is the be-all end-all in blood glucose compliance. However when the person has not been diagnosed with diabetes the hemoglobin A1c is a snapshot of the blood glucose levels for the previous 2-3 months.

The NYU researchers compared hemoglobin A1c levels in paired samples of oral and finger-stick blood taken from 75 patients with periodontal disease at the NYU College of Dentistry. A reading of 6.3 or greater in the oral sample corresponded to a finger stick reading of 6.5 in identifying the diabetes range, with minimal false positive and false negative results.

One of the principal investigators of the study, Dr. Sheila Strauss, emphasized how important this test could be for the early diagnosis of diabetes. ¬†“The issue of undiagnosed diabetes is especially critical because early treatment and secondary prevention efforts may help to prevent or delay the long-term complications of diabetes that are responsible for reduced quality of life and increased levels of mortality risk.”

Diabetes or not, people should visit their dentist office every 6 months. Some patients may find the oral blood sampling in a dentist’s office to be less invasive than finger stick sampling. This could be a feasible, convenient way to perform a screening for diabetes.

A dentist visit is nonnegotiable. You must go to maintain the health of your teeth. Taking the plunge to visit your regular doctor for a diabetes screening is not as likely to happen as a visit to your dentist. Kill two birds with one stone. Get your teeth cleaned and get your glucose checked. This could very well be available in the near future.

Visit Your Diabetes Health for more resources about health.