Improving Diabetes Prevention and Management

Grantee Name

Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

Funding Area

Improving Diabetes Prevention and Management

Publication Date

April 2014

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

October 2010–December 2012

Nearly 730,000 New Yorkers have undiagnosed diabetes.

Many of those at risk for diabetes go without necessary screenings because they do not have a primary care physician; without routine screening, Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for almost a decade. To address this problem, new opportunities to screen people at risk for diabetes in other health care settings—including dental care settings—are being explored. Because insurance use patterns indicate that people tend to seek routine and preventive oral health care more frequently than they do medical care, visits to the dentist serve as an opportunity to identify diabetes, connect patients with a primary care provider, and facilitate access to health care, especially for patients without a medical home.

In addition, multiple studies have shown a connection between diabetes and periodontal disease, further magnifying the benefits of conducting screenings for diabetes in a dental setting. Patients with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease and suffer from diabetes-related complications.  In 2010, NYHealth awarded Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CUCDM) a grant to expand upon its existing diabetes screening program in the dental setting, further study the outcomes of this intervention, and begin replication of the program.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Conducted HbA1c tests—an assessment of diabetes status—for 341 patients who received the periodontal examination and showed signs of undiagnosed prediabetes or diabetes;
  • Determined two easily identifiable characteristics—those with a certain number of missing teeth and the percentage of deep periodontal pockets—that were effective in identifying dental patients with unrecognized prediabetes or diabetes;
  • Facilitated appointments with their physician of choice for 22 patients who were identified as potentially having diabetes and 146 patients potentially having prediabetes;
  • Referred patients without a primary care physician to a Columbia University Ambulatory Care Network practice;
  • Conducted follow-up telephone calls with patients to inquire about follow-up care and outcomes;
  • Disseminated results at symposiums and conferences at the local, regional, and national levels;
  • Published 11 articles on the results of the project;
  • Developed a course curriculum module to teach future dental students; and
  • Contributed evidence to the first published large-scale assessment of identification of undiagnosed diabetes mellitus in a dental setting.