Skip to main content

Screening for Diabetes in Dental Clinics

Back to Articles

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and the Foundation launched the Diabetes Free SC (DFSC) initiative in 2020 in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier SC and the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control. This article, originally featured on, highlights the early detection efforts of DFSC.

Diabetes affects more than 600,000 people in South Carolina. About 127,000 people in our state have diabetes but do not know it yet. Many more have prediabetes. More than 90 percent of adults with prediabetes do not know they have it according to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Screening for diabetes is vital to reducing the prevalence of diabetes and its complications. Diabetes Free SC (DFSC) is seeking ways to increase access to diabetes screenings.

“People unaware of their diabetes risk or who have undiagnosed diabetes are at an increased risk for dangerous complications and poor health outcomes. Early detection of diabetes helps connect people with the appropriate care and resources to manage their condition and live a healthy life,” says DFSC Program Director Noreen O’Donnell. DFSC is working with two federally qualified health centers in South Carolina to increase access to screenings: Affinity Health Center in Rock Hill, and Fetter Health Care Network in Charleston. These centers provide high-quality, comprehensive care and a wide array of support services, including dental care. Dental clinic staff and medical clinic staff work together to ensure patients get seamless, coordinated care. Through this effort, Affinity and Fetter are taking coordination one step further by providing hemoglobin A1C tests for adult patients in their dental clinics.

A hemoglobin A1C test is a convenient way to screen people and identify their risk for prediabetes or diabetes. Affinity and Fetter will be able to identify individuals who are at an increased risk but do not have symptoms or have not been screened through the medical clinic. Those who have an elevated hemoglobin A1C will be referred directly to the medical clinic.

“Early detection is key in managing diabetes and promoting healthy outcomes,” O’Donnell says. “Diabetes can also cause or worsen multiple oral health issues and periodontal diseases, another intersection that makes this medical-dental integration so critical.”