Abstract

Objective

To assess effectiveness, convenience and cost of point-of-care diabetes screenings performed by a dental hygienist for patients with periodontitis, using a diabetes risk questionnaire, periodontal findings and a glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) analyser.

Methods

A purposive sample of 50 participants with periodontitis, never diagnosed with diabetes, reporting ≥one diabetes risk factor, were administered an HbA1c test. Spearman’s correlation measured relationships between HbA1c and diabetes risk test scores, numbers of missing teeth, percentage of deep pockets ≥5 mm and percentage of bleeding sites (BOP). Cost and time were assessed. Analyses used 0.05 alpha levels.

Results

Thirty-two per cent (n = 16) of participants presented HbA1c values indicating prediabetes; one HbA1c value indicated type 2 diabetes, totalling 34% (N = 17). No relationships existed between HbA1c values and diabetes risk scores (rs = 0.153; P = 0.144), numbers of missing teeth (r = 0.190; P = 0.093), percentage of deep pockets (rs = −0.048; P = 0.370) or percentage of BOP sites (rs = 0.066, P = 0.324). Direct cost for each HbA1c was $9US, excluding follow-up medical diagnosis. Mean screening time including patient education was 14 min (SD = 6.2). Fifty-three per cent (n = 9 of 17) of participants with elevated HbA1c values contacted their primary healthcare provider within 2 weeks as recommended.

Conclusion

Point-of-care HbA1c screenings by dental hygienists were effective and convenient for identifying undiagnosed prediabetes and provide opportunity for interprofessional patient care; cost or lack of dental insurance may inhibit implementation. Identification of patients at risk for diabetes requires further evaluation.

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