Bad feet, bad eyes, early death

The odds for nerve damage, eye problems and a shorter life for diabetics with poor oral health, versus those with good oral health, are significant (see table). For example, a diabetic with gum disease has a 2.8 to 8.7 greater chance of bad eyes than a diabetic with healthy gums.

There can be no better argument for integrating oral healthcare into the management of diabetes. By integration, I mean physically locating the hygiene team in the medical clinic so that when the diabetic patient visit the physician for a regular recall exam, part of the visit involves examining the health of the gums and, if necessary, treatment of oral inflammation with Prevora.

But why not refer the diabetic patient to see his or her dentist? First, we know many diabetics don’t have a dentist or avoid the dentist for reasons of cost and trauma. Second, every step required of the patient for management of chronic disease, tends to reduce adherence. And lastly, our experience with diabetic adults who regularly visit the dentist shows that more than half have chronic oral inflammation when they come to see their doctor.

The containment of costs by integrating preventive oral healthcare into management of diabetes is compelling. According to American insurers, medical spending is reduced between 27% and 40% for diabetics when they have improved oral health. Less demand for treating bad feet and bad eyes.