Research conducted at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine found that dental visits provide an opportunity to identify individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes. The study aimed to develop and evaluate an identification protocol for high blood sugar levels in dental patients.

For the study, approximately 530 patients with at least one additional self-reported diabetes risk factor (a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, or obesity/overweight) received a periodontal examination and a fingerstick, point-of-care hemoglobin A1c test. In order for researchers to assess and compare the performance of several potential identification protocols, patients returned for a fasting plasma glucose test, which indicated whether an individual has diabetes or pre-diabetes. It was discovered that in this at-risk dental population, a simple algorithm composed of only two dental parameters (number of missing teeth and percentage of deep periodontal pockets) was effective in identifying patients with unrecognized pre-diabetes or diabetes.

As reported by iData Research, the combined U.S. market for diabetes diagnosis, treatment and drug delivery is expected to grow at double-digit rates, reaching a value of over $55 billion by 2016. Increased diagnoses in dental settings would increase demand in this industry.