Adding value – hygienists screening for prediabetes

A new study shows that only about 12% of adults who have prediabetes are aware of their status. But after becoming aware of their risk of diabetes, prediabetics had significantly higher odds of getting more active and losing weight, the combination of which can prevent the onset of diabetes.

Given these encouraging findings on timely behaviour modification to avert a serious chronic disease, one wonders if the dental team can play a useful role in finding prediabetes, and in turn, starting the modification of behaviour?

A small pilot study of 50 adult dental patients with periodontal disease but no formal diagnosis of diabetes found that about 1 in 3 were prediabetic, according to the standard blood test. The direct cost for each blood test was $9US, mean screening time including patient education was 14 min (SD = 6.2). But most notably, 53% of these prediabetic dental patients contacted their doctor within 2 weeks as recommended.

When confronted with an important new service like prediabetic screening, the all-to-common obstacles of scope of practice, willingness to pay, and procedure codes come up. Given the growing public health and personal health importance of finding prediabetics, however, it seems worthwhile finding ways to overcome these obstacles.

By: Ross Perry
Partners In Prevention –