Blood Glucose Testing in Dental Practice

The incidence of diabetes mellitus has been increasing at epidemic proportions, making this chronic disease the most common medical condition in dental patients. Hyperglycemia has been identified as a potential risk factor for periodontal disease, disease infection, and poor response to treatment. Additionally, an estimated 4% of Americans are undiagnosed diabetics, and more than 80% of the diagnosed patients are not well-controlled. Early diagnosis and intervention have been shown to improve outcomes and reduce morbid medical complications in diabetic patients. Thus, identifying hyperglycemia in dental practice could lead to significant improvement in both the dental and medical outcomes.

This study investigated the prevalence of hyperglycemia in dental patients of DPBRN practitioner-investigators. The global aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of blood sugar testing and diabetes screening in dental practice. The specific aims of this study were to quantify the: 1) percentage of DPBRN patients who meet the American Diabetes Association screening criteria and describe the characteristics of these patients; and 2) acceptability of conducting blood sugar testing in the dental office and barriers to regular screening, as reported by DPBRN patients and practices.

*the terms ‘blood sugar’ , ‘blood glucose’, and ‘hyperglycemia’ are related and interchangeable in some contexts. DPBRN adopted the term ‘blood sugar’ for the title of this study to tailor its communication to a lay, non-dental, non-medical audience. This helps facilitate explaining the study to dental patients.