Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the New York University (NYU) Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.
The study, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, showed general decline in dental visits among adults, but people with diabetes were consistently the least likely to obtain oral healthcare.
Research has shown a two-way relationship between diabetes and oral health. People with diabetes are at an increased risk for periodontal disease, a chronic inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue and bone, while periodontal disease has an adverse effect on blood glucose control—which can contribute to the progression of diabetes. In fact, periodontal disease has been called the sixth complication of diabetes after issues like kidney disease, damage to the retina, and heart disease.
“For people living with diabetes, regular dental check-ups—paired with proactive dental and diabetes self-care—are important for maintaining good oral health. Regular dental visits provide opportunities for prevention, early detection, and treatment of periodontal disease, which can potentially help with blood glucose control and preventing complications from diabetes,” said Bei Wu, PhD, dean’s professor in global health and director of global health & aging research at NYU Meyers and the study’s senior author.
Several factors may account for the under-utilization of dental services by people with diabetes, according to the researchers. People may not be aware of the impact of diabetes on their oral health and vice versa. In addition, in a previous study, individuals with diabetes more frequently reported the cost of dental care as a reason for avoiding routine visits. Because of the importance of dental care for good oral health, the researchers assert that reducing financial barriers and improving access to dental providers is needed, especially among people with diabetes and prediabetes.
This article was adapted from information provided by NYU.