The diabetes and oral health connection - Oral Health Watch

Healthy teeth and gums provide more than fresh breath and a confident smile. They also play a significant role in managing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Mounting medical evidence and research shows that inflamed gums and infections from cavities and gum disease can affect a diabetes patient’s ability to control their blood sugar. On top of that, unchecked blood sugar levels can bring about poor oral health. This connection between the mouth and diabetes creates a reciprocal cause and effect that can result in high blood sugar.

And uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to serious and expensive complications, including blindness, kidney disease, heart disease and amputation. In fact, at least half of the medical costs associated with diabetes are hospitalizations that result from diabetic complications.

But a recent study that looked at commercially-insured patients found that diabetes patients who received routine dental care had 40 percent fewer hospitalizations and saved an average of $2,800 a year in lower medical costs than those who did not.

That is why many lawmakers support efforts to expand dental care access for many of the state’s most vulnerable adults. Because when more at-risk adults with diabetes get their mouth infections in check, there is great potential for improved health outcomes, fewer complications and lower medical costs.

The Washington State Legislature is currently considering SB 5540, which would allow the Health Care Authority to conduct a three-year pilot program that would expand dental care access for diabetes patients with Apple Health coverage. Lawmakers envision smart investments in preventive care will lead to improved health for thousands of low-income adults, while potentially saving the state money.

Please tell lawmakers that you support targeted investments in dental care access for Medicaid-insured adults with diabetes by clicking here.

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