Effectiveness of screening for diabetes mellitus in dental health care

Diabet Med. 2013 Feb;30(2):239-45. doi: 10.1111/dme.12009.


Aims: The aim of the present study was to test the effectiveness of opportunistic blood glucose screening in a cooperational framework between dental and primary health care.

Methods: Altogether, 1568 subjects, age 20-75 years, with no previous history of diabetes, who came for a regular dental examination, had their non-fasting blood glucose measured with a portable blood glucose meter. Subjects with a concentration of ≥ 6.7 mmol/l (121 mg dl(-1) ) were referred to their primary healthcare centre for follow-up. The outcome, a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, was obtained from primary healthcare centre and hospital patient records, during 3 years after screening.

Results: Of the 155 (9.9%) subjects who screened positive, 139 (89.7%) came to their primary healthcare centre within the 3-year follow-up period and nine (5.8%) were diagnosed as having diabetes mellitus according to the World Health Organization criteria. Of the 1413 subjects who screened negative, 1137 (80.5%) came to the primary healthcare centre and eight (0.6%) were found to have diabetes mellitus. Screening sensitivity was 52.9%, specificity 90.6% and positive predictive value 5.8%. The number of subjects needed to screen to find one case of diabetes was 196. Delineating the study population to those 40- to 75-year-olds with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m(2) , and 30-to 75-year-olds with a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2) , the numbers needed to screen was reduced to 96.

Conclusions: Cooperation between dental and primary care for high blood glucose screening and follow-up appears to be a feasible method for early diagnosis of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dental Health Services*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Blood Glucose