DELTA DENTAL OF NEW JERSEY DENTISTS TO OFFER IN-OFFICE A1C DIABETES TESTING
Dentists First Line of Defense Against Diabetes
PARSIPPANY, N.J. — June 01, 2015 — Dentists in New Jersey may now screen at-risk patients for diabetes. The New Jersey State Board of Dentistry ruled that such in-office blood screening is within the scope of licensure in the state of New Jersey, but noted that “such testing is not presumed to be the standard of care.” The screening test, known as HbA1c, or A1c, can be performed as a finger prick blood test that may be analyzed in the dental office.
To kick things off, Delta Dental of New Jersey is targeting the launch of a pilot program for July that enables a group of its network of providers to incorporate A1c screenings for patients at risk for diabetes, and also encourages screenings and appropriate referrals for patients presenting with signs and/or symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and hypertension.
“Since as many as 27 million people visit a dentist and not a physician in a given year , dentists are a critical ‘front door’ toward a patient’s overall health,” said Dr. Keith Libou, chief clinical officer, Delta Dental of New Jersey. “This simple screening would allow safer, more comprehensive care to be provided, and also allow the dental community to help address one of our nation’s most significant healthcare problems.”
Diabetes is associated with serious dental concerns, from delayed wound healing to periodontal disease. Knowing that a patient has diabetes may impact a dentist’s decision regarding extractions and other treatments. For A1c screenings that come up positive, dentists should refer patients to a physician for a formal evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.
Because of the connection between oral health and overall health, the impact of this ruling will be experienced far beyond just dental care. Diabetes is among the most serious and costly public health problems in the United States. Screening for chronic diseases in dental offices could reduce U.S. healthcare costs by up to $102.6 million per year, according to a study published by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute.
According to a prospective study of 500 dental patients who completed a survey and submitted to an in-office finger stick blood draw to measure A1c levels, the screening revealed that 19.2% were pre-diabetic and 1.2% had diabetes. None of the patients had a prior diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes.
For more information and tips on good oral health, visit the Delta Dental of New Jersey website or DentalCentral, Delta Dental of New Jersey’s oral health and wellness site.
About Delta Dental
Delta Dental of New Jersey Inc. is New Jersey’s leading dental benefits company, providing or administering coverage to more than 1.5 million people through contracts with groups in New Jersey and Connecticut. In Connecticut, Delta Dental Insurance Company writes dental coverage on an insured basis and Delta Dental of New Jersey administers self-funded dental benefit programs. For more information, visit www.deltadentalnj.com.
1 Nasseh K, Greenberg B, Vujicic M, Glick M. – “The effect of chairside chronic disease screenings by oral health professionals on health care costs.” American Journal of Public Health. February 2014.
2 Nasseh K, Greenberg B, Vujicic M, Glick M. – “The effect of chairside chronic disease screenings by oral health professionals on health care costs.” American Journal of Public Health. February 2014.
3 Aldasouqui SA, et al – "Diabetes detection in the dental office: A promising emerging opportunity for screening for undiagnosed prediabetes and diabetes." American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), 2015.