ADA Acknowledges Dental Team’s Role in Diabetes Epidemic

Posted on by Jen McGuire | Category Coding and Insurance, Total Health

Type 2 diabetes has escalated to epidemic and financially catastrophic proportions, and is expected to affect one in three US adults by 2050. We already have more than 29 million diabetics in this country today; 28% remain undiagnosed.

With the well-established connection between diabetes and periodontal disease and the greater likelihood that patients will see a dentist than a physician, there is a clear opportunity for dental teams to assist in this health crisis. In-office diabetes screening provides the dental team with critical health information needed to successfully address patients’ oral health while ensuring patients are referred for the medical care they may be unaware they need.

The ADA and Code Maintenance Committee (CMC) announced the addition of a new 2018 code that will report the in-office measure of hemoglobin A1c, a blood test that provides information about a person’s average circulating blood sugar levels in the previous 3 months.

“People with poorly controlled diabetes are at greater risk for dental problems,” Dr. Ronald Riggins, chair of the CMC, said. “High blood sugar may cause dry mouth and make gum disease worse. There is a definite link of oral health to overall health, and dentists are often on the front lines of investigating systemic health.”

Identify Your Patients at Risk for Diabetes

  • Family history
  • High cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Overweight/obese
  • Periodontal disease

Check At-Risk Patients for Diabetes
Hemoglobin A1c tests can be performed in the dental office with a simple finger-stick. In just a few minutes, the test provides the patient’s average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months classified as either normal, prediabetes, or diabetes. Patients can then be referred to a medical provider for a definitive diagnosis.

For help educating patients about the connection between diabetes and oral health and implementing A1c testing in your practice, request a free Total Health Workshop or visit

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