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Study results suggest pre-diabetes screening possible during dental exam


Some researchers have long connected oral well-being with a variety of illness risk factors, including heart disease and Alzheimer's. Now, a group of dental scientists from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine has published a report in the industry news source Journal of Dental Research, stating that pre-diabetes symptoms can be identified in the dentist's chair.

The study focused on the development of Type 2 diabetes, which is the form that develops later in life. Once known as "adult-onset" diabetes, this disorder has since experienced a significant increase in obese adolescents. The Columbia research initiative involved 530 individuals, all of whom exhibited at least one risk factor such as excess weight, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels. A hemoglobin test, which measures the amount of insulin the body produces, was administered along with a periodontal examination of the participants' mouths.

Researchers were then able to diagnose a pre-diabetes condition by examining the number of periodontal "pockets," which are areas of the gum line that recede as bacteria spread, and the prevalence of missing teeth. According to Dr. Ira Lamster, one of the principal authors of the study, periodontitis is a precondition of Type 2 diabetes, and as such, needs to be monitored closely by dental care providers.

"This study will hopefully become part of any routine dental checkup," Jeffrey Epstein, founder of the organization that helped fund the project, said in a press release. "Together with a hemoglobin A1c test, it will vastly improve the prevention of Type 2 diabetes."

In order to gain a better picture of their oral health situation, everyone should make regular appointments to see a gentle family dentistry professional to keep an eye out for any troubling conditions like gum disease.