“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 Dean Cecile A. Feldman,
According to Dean Feldman, many dentists now perform blood pressure screenings but diabetes screening is relatively new, even though diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
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 administering rapid screening tests, those 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’ll be referred to Rutgers School of Nursing clinics or University Hospital. The Rutgers School of Health Profession’s Department of Nutrition is also slated to collaborate so patients can be treated holistically.
Dean 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,’’ she said.
Ultimately, she hopes the program will become a routine aspect of care at RSDM. “The key to successful implementation os making diabetes part of our normal medical history and patient assessment protocol.’’