Diabetes in the dental office: using NHANES III to estimate the probability of undiagnosed disease

J Periodontal Res. 2007 Dec;42(6):559-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0765.2007.00983.x.


Background and objective: Recent data have suggested that in the past 15 years there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of diabetes mellitus in the USA. However, evidence suggests that approximately one-third of diabetes cases remain undiagnosed. Because 60% of Americans see a dentist at least once per year for routine, nonemergent, care, it is reasonable to propose that the dental office can be a healthcare location actively involved in screening for unidentified diabetes.

Material and methods: This study used NHANES III to develop a predictive equation that can form the basis of a tool to help dentists determine the probability of undiagnosed diabetes by using self-reported data and periodontal clinical parameters routinely assessed in the dental office.

Results: Our analyses reveal that individuals with a self-reported family history of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels and clinical evidence of periodontal disease bear a probability of 27-53% of having undiagnosed diabetes, with Mexican-American men exhibiting the highest probability and white women the lowest.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that the dental office could provide an important opportunity to identify individuals unaware of their diabetic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Dental Care*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontitis / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • United States