Category: Interesting News



A Michigan State University diabetes expert and a local dentist have teamed up to create a screening tool that dental offices can offer patients to determine their risk for diabetes.

Saleh Aldasouqi, an associate professor of medicine and chief of endocrinology at Michigan State University, and Susan Maples, a family dentist in Holt, Michigan, are working together to educate patients on how diabetes can influence gum disease, as well as help other dentists and dental hygienists around the country recognize what diabetes looks like in the mouth.

There is documented evidence that says diabetes significantly worsens gum disease and bone loss around teeth, and active gum disease impairs the patient’s ability to get blood sugar levels under control.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three American adults will be diabetic by 2050.

Aldasouqi said studies have shown that more than two thirds of people in America visit their dentist at least once a year, many of whom do not see their regular doctor.

“In other words, there’s an opportunity for patients in the dental clinics to be screened for diseases,” Aldasouqi said. “Diabetes and prediabetes are a very difficult public health problem.”

Maples said she would like to influence dentists across the country to start screening for diabetes and help stop the deteriorating health of America. By doing this, it may also help prevent gum disease.

As a result, Maples and Aldasouqi created a screening tool that did not include weighing patients on a scale or even discussing the patient’s weight in order to determine a body mass index measurement. It’s well documented that being overweight or obese is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes, yet Maples thought patient compliance to step on a scale at a dentist office would be low.

The tool, Diabetes Detection in the Dental Office, or DiDDO Score, is a 14-question survey that requires no body weighing, BMI calculation, laboratory tests or blood pressure measurement. It allows dentists to identify patients at moderate and high risk for diabetes mellitus and prediabetes.

To conduct the study and test the screening tool, 500 dental patients, age 18 years or older, without history of diabetes mellitus and or prediabetes, completed the questionnaire and received finger pricks to measure their A1c, the sugar in their hemoglobin.

After testing the blood, the results were measured against the positive responses of the questionnaire in order to find a screening tool that would be validated or easily used in a dental office.

“The results were astonishing,” Aldasouqi said. “About 19 percent of those patients had prediabetes and they didn’t know it.”

Maples said the screening tool not only helps identify risk factors, but educates patients to recognize symptoms of diabetes.

“You might have a loved one that has those same symptoms, or years from now say ‘I’m getting tingling and numbness in my hands and feet. I wonder if that’s diabetes,’” Maples said. “You can understand what the disease is and have a discussion about the effects of it.”

She said that when a patient has diabetes and gum disease, the last thing that should be done is to treat the gum disease in a normal surgical way. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, diabetes may increase risk for problems during or after surgery, such as infection or slower healing.

“Introducing a small wound in a diabetic, in which you are pouring negative bacteria, is not a good thing,” Maples said.

Aldasouqi and Maples’ goal is for a larger study to be conducted, for the screening tool to be offered in every dental office in America and to detect diabetes as soon as possible.

Aldasouqi said his role has been and will continue to be to collaborate with the dental scientific community to help implement the tool. Maples’ role is to reach out to dental organizations throughout the nation so that the tool becomes a standard.



It may be small, so small it’s hardly noticeable, but it could someday save lives.

“It” is wearable technology that can monitor a person’s eating, drinking, coughing and even social habits, and that’s information a health care provider could find useful when treating someone dealing with obesity, diabetes, asthma or even depression.

This next generation of wearable technology, known as “HeadScan,” is being developed by a team of engineers at Michigan State University in collaboration with researchers at Bell Labs. Unlike existing technology, this is radio-based, which means it’s less intrusive, better able to protect one’s privacy and more comfortable to wear.

The primary focus of this emerging technology is on health care.

“HeadScan uses wireless radio signals to sense the targeted activities and provides a nonintrusive and privacy-preserving solution that overcomes the drawbacks of current wearable technologies,” said Mi Zhang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering who is heading up the research.

The way it works, he said, is radio waves from two small antennas, which can be placed on the shoulders, are bounced off the patient’s head, capturing movements of the mouth and head caused by eating, drinking, coughing and speaking.

The information is then relayed to a health care professional who can analyze the data.

“For example, it can monitor how often a person eats,” Zhang said. “Dietary monitoring is important. However, humans are not good at tracking these sorts of things. Fortunately computers are.”

It also provides much more accurate information.

“In some cases, the patient may not want to reveal how much he or she has eaten,” Zhang said. “This will provide objective information on a continuous basis.”

The wearable also monitors how much a person talks. This may seem relatively unimportant, but measuring how much a person talks and engages with others is an indicator of one’s mental health, especially depression.

“Existing technology often uses cameras and microphones to measure this, which can track your voice as well as others around you,” Zhang said. “This offers a lot more privacy.”

The HeadScan continues to be tested by Zhang and his team, who hope to have it available for practical use within the next couple of years.

The work was recently presented at the 2016 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks in Vienna, Austria.