Researchers are finding that the link between diabetes and oral health continues to grow stronger. People with diabetes tend to have a greater incidence of periodontal disease and tooth decay. But did you know that improved oral hygiene can improve blood glucose levels? This November, recognize American Diabetes Month by understanding what you can do to help support your clients.
Visiting your dentist to manage your diabetes may seem unusual, but it’s true: Procedures such as scaling and root planing can decrease cortisol levels in the blood, improving glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes patients in as little as three to four months, according to the National Institutes of Health. An infection such as periodontal disease can spread infection through the bloodstream, and as part of the body’s defense system, blood sugar levels rise. Periodontal treatment reduces inflammation and can also prevent the disease from growing worse.
The problem compounds when diabetes goes uncontrolled. Diabetes can cause the salivary glands in your mouth to make less saliva, which creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, leading to cavities and periodontal disease. What makes it worse is that many people tend to neglect their dental health when battling a chronic disease such as diabetes. People with underlying diseases such as diabetes may not go to the dentist as regularly as people without.
Unfortunately, diabetes is taking its toll on America’s workforce. The disease cost U.S. businesses an estimated $327 billion in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That figure includes $237 billion in medical care costs, $26.9 billion in reduced productivity and $3.3 billion in absenteeism — one out of every 10 people in the U.S. misses work regularly because of the disease.
You can help your group clients and their employees with diabetes get the treatment they need with SmileWay® Wellness Benefits, an optional add-on benefit for Delta Dental PPO™ plans. Available for members diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, this benefit provides expanded coverage for cleanings and gum treatments. Contact your sales representative for more information.
There are other things you can do to promote dental health:
Controlling diabetes is only one part of dental health, though. People who brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, floss and go to their dentist regularly are healthier. Remind your clients to use their benefits and see their dentist regularly, especially if they have diabetes. They’ll help keep their disease under control, which makes them smile even more.