Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is widely used to test for diabetes. Oral blood samples drawn from deep pockets of periodontal inflammation can be used to measure HbA1c, an important gauge of a patient’s diabetes status, a New York University (NYU) nursing-dental research team has found. HbA1c blood glucose measures from oral blood compare well to those from finger-stick blood, the researchers say. According to guidelines established by the American Diabetes Association, an HbA1c reading of 6.5 or more indicates a value in the diabetes range. As reported in November 2011 in the Journal of Periodontology, the researchers compared HbA1c levels in paired samples of oral and finger-stick blood taken from 75 patients with periodontal disease at the NYU College of Dentistry. A reading of 6.3 or greater in the oral sample corresponded to a finger-stick reading of 6.5 in identifying the diabetes range, with minimal false positive and false negative results.
“In light of these findings, the dental visit could be a useful opportunity to conduct an initial diabetes screening—an important first step in identifying those patients who need further testing to determine their diabetes status,” said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Shiela Strauss, associate professor of nursing and co-director of the Statistics and Data Management Core for NYU’s Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry. She added that some patients may find the oral blood sampling in a dentist’s office to be less invasive than finger-stick blood sampling. The one-year study utilized a version of a HbA1c testing kit that was initially developed specifically to enable dentists and dental hygienists to collect finger-stick blood samples and send them to a lab for analysis. The testing kit was adapted to enable analysis of both oral and finger-stick blood samples. Dr. Strauss points out that the HbA1c testing method requires only a single drop of blood to be collected, applied to a special blood collection card, and mailed to the lab when dry. She plans additional research on oral blood HbA1c testing involving a broader pool of subjects and dental practice sites.
(Source: NYU Colleges of Nursing and of Dentistry, February 13, 2012)