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Low Rate of Annual Dental Visits in Diabetic Adults

In 2004, the median estimated age-adjusted percentage of dentate adult diabetics who visited a dentist in the preceding year was 67%.

This information comes from an analysis of data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
According to CDC, regular dental visits can aid in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of periodontal disease, which occurs with increased prevalence and severity among diabetic adults and has been linked to the development of glucose intolerance and poor glycemic control.

In light of its importance, an annual dental exam rate of 71% for adult diabetics has been set as one of the revised national health objectives for 2010. However, 2004 study results revealed that the majority of states had not achieved this goal or demonstrated an increase in rates since 1999.

Seven states had an annual dental exam rate of 71% or higher: Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin. Annual dental exam rates among diabetics had increased significantly since 1999 in only 4 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased significantly in North Carolina.

Sociodemographic analysis further revealed that risk factors for lack of dental care included tobacco use, black race, low education and income, lack of health insurance, and lack of training in diabetes management.

The CDC notes that these findings underscore a need for increased awareness regarding the importance of oral health in diabetic adults. Diabetes education programs should emphasize personal and professional preventive oral health measures for all patients, with an emphasis on blacks, patients with lower education and income, and those lacking health insurance. MMWR. 2005;54; 1177-1200.