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Early Detection of Diabetes in Teeth Funded by Columbia University and Investor

Posted on July 24, 2012

NEW YORK, July 22, 2012 /PRNewswire—A recent study published in the Journal of Dental Research at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM) and backed by others, includingThe Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation, found that a pre-diabetes determination can be made by simply going to the dentist.

The study has huge implications for those Americans who are developing Type 2 diabetes at alarming rates. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 diabetes is acquired, mostly from poor diet and therefore, early detection can stop the disease from progressing. According to the American Diabetes Association, a whopping 25.8 million Americans now have diabetes. That's 8.3% of the US population, and 90% to 95% of that is from Type 2.

The study at Columbia looked at approximately 530 adults with at least one diabetes risk factor (family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, or obesity). Each patient received a periodontal examination and a finger-stick, hemoglobin A1c test. Patients later returned for a fasting plasma glucose test, to show whether they have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The researchers found that a basic algorithm of only two dental parameters (the number of missing teeth and percentage of deep periodontal pockets) was necessary to identify patients with unrecognized pre-diabetes or diabetes. The addition of the hemoglobin A1c test further improved the algorithm's performance.

"Periodontal disease is an early complication of diabetes, and about 70% of U.S. adults see a dentist at least once a year," said  Ira Lamster,  DDS, MMScDean of CDM and senior author of the study. 

"This study will hopefully become part of any routine dental checkup," remarked Jeffrey Epstein, whose foundation supports cutting-edge science research. "Together with a hemoglobin A1c test, it will vastly improve the prevention of Type 2 diabetes."