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Hemoglobin A1c, Diabetes, and Your Dental Office: The Connection

Hemoglobin A1c, Diabetes, and Your Dental Office: The Connection

Oral blood samples drawn from deep pockets of periodontal inflammation can be used to measure hemoglobin A1c, an important gauge of a patient’s diabetes status, an NYU nursing-dental research team has found. Hemoglobin A1c blood glucose measures from oral blood compare well to those from finger-stick blood, the researchers say. The findings are from a study funded by an NYU CTSI (Clinical and Translational Science Institute) grant awarded to the research team last year.

Hemoglobin A1c is widely used to test for diabetes. According to guidelines established by the American Diabetes Association, an A1c reading of 6.5 or more indicates a value in the diabetes range.
The NYU researchers compared hemoglobin A1c 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.

The one-year study utilized a version of a hemoglobin A1c testing kit that was initially developed specifically to enable dentists and dental hygienists to collect finger-stick blood samples and send them to a laboratory for analysis. The testing kit was adapted to enable analysis of both oral blood and finger-stick samples. The hemoglobin A1c testing method requires only a single drop of blood to be collected, applied to a special blood collection card, and mailed to the laboratory when dry.

When getting a physical exam at your physician’s office, you should have your hemoglobin A1c routinely checked; make sure it is. It is more reliable that blood glucose levels, as it measures your blood glucose levels over time.

We hope to soon offer this service, but at this time it is unavailable. Once it is available, then coding will have to be developed and insurance companies will have to decide how to handle it. More red tape!

Information retrieved in part from, 1/21/13