Oral Health & Diabetes - Oral Health Watch

People with diabetes benefit from dental care, and that benefits taxpayers


The issue

When the Legislature eliminated dental coverage for low-income adults to balance the 2011-13 state budget,  that affected approximately 60,000 low-income adults with diabetes who are particularly vulnerable to oral health problems.   Research shows untreated gum disease from poor oral health can exacerbate diabetes and lead to costly diabetic complications that often result in hospitalization.

There are about 400,000 people in Washington with diabetes and more than one million with pre-diabetes.  The costs to the state for hospital care to treat diabetic complications are high ‒ on average $10,990 per patient.

But studies show that people with diabetes who receive oral health care have significantly lower medical costs – 10 to 40 percent lower – and that providing dental care for people with diabetes can reduce hospitalizations by 61 percent in one year.

The solution

Urge Legislators to restore dental coverage for Medicaid-eligible adults, especially those with diabetes. Providing dental care for people with diabetes saves money for the state and taxpayers, and helps people remain healthy and be more productive.  It’s the smart thing to do.

Learn more:

  • Research shows that immediate and multi-year cost savings result from oral health care for people with diabetes.
  • Dental care reduces for pharmacy costs people with diabetes.


Take action now:

Contact legislators and urge them to restore dental care for low-income adults, especially those with diabetes.

  • Use this link to find your legislator and send an email or letter (see sample below) to deliver important messages supporting access to oral health for low-income adults.
  • Find us on Twitter @OralHealthWatch and help us deliver the message: A cut to dental care is a cut to overall health.


Sample email/letter:

Please personalize if possible to include how this issue affects you.

Dear [legislator],

It is important to protect dental coverage for vulnerable adults including people with diabetes.  Neglecting the dental care of these vulnerable people leads to needless pain and suffering and can result in serious diabetes complications.

Yet up to 60,000 low-income adults with diabetes in Washington lost dental coverage due to budget cuts.  Providing dental coverage for people with diabetes is a smart investment because it reduces the need for expensive emergency room care and reduces the likelihood of serious complications, saving money for taxpayers.

Please restore dental coverage for Medicaid-eligible adults in our state, especially those with diabetes.


[Your name]

[Your Address]

[City, State, ZIP]

Arcora Foundation
400 Fairview Avenue North, Suite 800
Seattle, WA 98109
Oral Health Watch does not provide dental care and cannot provide direct referrals. To find dental care in your area, please visit our resources page. Please contact Oral Health Watch for more information about our programs and oral health in Washington State