Screening in Dental Clinics

While the known prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes is concerning enough, even more worrisome is the number of people who don't yet know that they have an issue with their blood sugar. An estimated 127,000 people in South Carolina have diabetes and do not know it yet, accompanied by hundreds of thousands more unaware of having prediabetes. People unaware of their diabetes risk or who have undiagnosed diabetes are at an increased risk for dangerous complications and poor health outcomes. That is why finding innovative approaches to increase access to screening for diabetes is so critical. Early detection of diabetes helps connect people with the appropriate care and resources to manage their condition and live a healthy life. 

Diabetes Free SC is working with Affinity Health Center to increase access to screening. Affinity is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Rock Hill providing high-quality, comprehensive care and support services to their patients, including an onsite dental clinic. The dental clinic and medical clinic work together to ensure that care can be coordinated seamlessly for patients. Affinity is taking this coordination one step further by providing hemoglobin A1c tests for their adult patients in the dental clinic. 

A hemoglobin A1c test is a simple blood test that can help estimate blood sugar levels for the previous two to three months. This test is a convenient way to screen individuals and identify their risk for prediabetes or diabetes. By conducting these tests in their dental clinic, Affinity will be able to identify individuals who are at an increased risk but are asymptomatic or have not been screened through a visit to the medical clinic. Individuals who have an elevated hemoglobin A1c will be referred directly to care in the medical clinic through Affinity's existing collaborative coordination structure.

Early detection is key in managing diabetes and promoting healthy outcomes. Diabetes can also cause or worsen multiple oral health issues and periodontal diseases, another intersection that makes this medical-dental integration so critical. Through this partnership, Affinity will be providing increased opportunities for screening, increasing awareness of individuals' diabetes status, and strengthening linkages to care.