Rutgers Dental School to Begin Screening Patients for Diabetes

Dentistry Today


The Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in Newark, New Jersey, will screen patients for diabetes as part of a new early detection program.

“Each year, 27 million patients visit a dentist, but not a physician. Many patients seeking care at the dental school are either diabetic or prediabetic but haven’t been diagnosed and don’t know they’re at risk,” said Cecile A. Feldman, dean of the school.

Many dentists perform blood pressure screenings but diabetes screenings are relatively new, Feldman says, even though diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Funded by a grant from Delta Dental of New Jersey, the two-year program is scheduled to screen up to 500 patients and train predoctoral students to identify at-risk patients, most of them elderly and middle-aged.

After undergoing rapid screening tests, patients with moderate to high levels of indicators for the disease would be referred to their primary care physician. If they don’t have one, they will be referred to Rutgers School of Nursing Clinics or University Hospital. The Rutgers School of Health Professions’ Department of Nutrition also is slated to collaborate so patients can be treated holistically. 

Feldman stressed the importance of early intervention.

“Early diagnosis enables patients to manage the disease and prevent the onset or delay of serious disease complications such as neuropathy and cardiovascular disease,” Feldman said.

Ultimately, Feldman hopes the program will become a routine aspect of care at the school.

“The key to successful implementation is making diabetes part of our normal medical history and patient assessment protocol,” said Feldman.

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