Study Finds Diabetics Visit the Dentist Less Often

More and more, those with diabetes are disregarding dental check-ups. In fact, a recent study led by NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University found that minorities (Blacks and Hispanics) and men are visiting the dentist less often, increasing their risk of gum disease. These results indicate that healthcare providers need to promote and stress the need for affordable dental care.



The risk of periodontal disease


The ECU and NYU study included 2.2 million people who didn’t have diabetes, 248,000 people with diabetes and 30,500 people with prediabetes.


East Carolina University’s Huabin Luo, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study, stated that people who need the most care go to the dentist the least often. Part of good oral health includes regular dental visits, but for people with diabetes or prediabetes, protecting against gum disease is imperative. That’s where regular check-ups and routine visits can help look for early stages of periodontal disease.


A proactive approach to fighting periodontal (gum) disease includes monitoring blood glucose levels and minimizing complications often associated with having diabetes. That’s according to the study’s senior author, Bei Wu, who is Director of Global Health and Aging Research at NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing.



Diabetes complications and its ties to gum disease


Gum disease is chronic inflammation that affects the gum line and surrounding tissues and bones. Since it can adversely affect the ability to control blood glucose, gum disease can increase the progression of diabetes. Diabetes has several complications that include retina damage, heart disease, kidney disease and periodontal disease. For those with diabetes, good oral care is imperative and should include routine check-ups tied in with regular diabetes self-care.


One concern is that people who don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford to see a dentist aren’t seeking out alternative options. That’s where healthcare professionals and those who work in public health can assist the public. By promoting good oral health and stressing the need for dental visits, dental professionals can help people reduce the risks of developing periodontal disease. This is important especially among those with prediabetes or those who have diabetes.



Finding dental providers and dental plans


To reduce the risk of developing gum disease, Huabin Luo, Ph.D. points out that timely dental care is vital to promoting oral health. In fact, discount dental plans can help a person find a cheap dentist and therefore improve their overall health. Affordable dental plans can help people find a dentist, resume routine oral care and potentially minimize their risk of developing gum disease.



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