Glucose Meters Added to ADA Dental Codes

Dentistry Today


According to the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD), 86 million people in the United States have prediabetes, though 90% of them are unaware of their condition. Gary Hack, DDS, a clinical associate professor in the school’s Department of Advanced Oral Sciences and Therapeutics, has long advocated widespread use of glucose meters in dentistry so clinicians can play a role in treating the diabetes epidemic.

“The majority of people who suffer with diabetes do not control their blood sugar levels adequately,” said Hack. “Dentists are in an ideal position to monitor their patients’ blood sugar levels to determine if they are in good control, as millions of individuals will see a dentist in the course of a year, but not see a medical doctor.”

In March, the ADA’s Code Maintenance Committee accepted Hack’s request to include the glucose meter test in its upcoming 2019 Codes on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature. With the code, dentists will be able to accurately document specific treatments via electronic health records, provide for efficient processing of dental claims, and help standardize the use of glucose meters in dental practices. 

Hack appeared before the committee to answer questions during its annual meeting in March at the ADA headquarters in Chicago. Ultimately, Hack’s request was one of only six codes to be accepted among the 66 submitted to the committee for consideration. Hack was supported by letters from the Maryland Department of Health Office of Oral Health and by his UMSOD department chairman, Thomas Oates, DMD, PhD.

“As periodontal disease is frequently one of the earliest clinical sequelae of diabetes, many patients with undiagnosed diabetes may initially enter the dental setting,” said Oates.

The use of glucose meters in dentistry will enable diabetes and prediabetes screenings, the school reports. It also will help safeguard patients who require insulin and are at risk of becoming hypoglycemic during the course of a dental appointment, potentially placing the patient into a life-threatening situation, UMSOD says. 

“More and more dentists are testing their patients, because if a diabetic dental patient is about to undergo a long, complex procedure, it is helpful to know what their blood sugar level is at that moment,” said Christopher Bulnes, vice chair of the Council of Dental Benefit Programs. 

For years, UMSOD says, Hack has lobbied to expand the role of oral health providers in the battle against diabetes and to increase research efforts into diagnosis and prevention.

“Diabetes and prediabetes now affects 50% of the US adult population and will bankrupt our healthcare system without intervention,” said Hack.

Hack is the American Diabetes Association’s dental representative at its annual “Call to Congress,” where members advocate for accessible healthcare, affordable insulin, and funding for diabetes research. He also lobbied the group to include a section titled “Screening in Dental Practices” in Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, the first time a dentistry-specific section was included in the group’s publication.

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