By Omar A. Escontrías, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., Emilia C. Istrate, Ph.D., M.A.I.S., Neil Chandok, B.S.
National Diabetes Awareness Month and ADEA is highlighting the connection between oral health and overall health, including how diabetes impacts an individual’s health. The below ADEA Policy Research Report, Oral Health Care and Primary Health Care:
Stronger Together in Recognizing and Managing Diabetes, explores the overlap between primary health care and oral health care and the role dental education plays to prepare oral health providers.
The connection between an individual’s oral health and overall health is well established in the oral health literature. Particularly, oral health diseases, such as periodontal disease, are a major complication in patients with diabetes and vice versa. Unmanaged diabetes is a risk factor to the progression of
periodontal disease, and oral health diseases may contribute to elevated glucose levels.
The connection between periodontal disease and systemic conditions is known as the oral-systemic link. Recognition of the oral-systemic link warrants integration of the oral health care and primary health care disciplines to help prevent and manage oral and chronic conditions in patients.
This report addresses the importance of the oral-systemic link and how oral and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, benefit from a higher level of integration of primary health care and oral health care. This research also discusses dental education’s role in preparing the oral health providers of tomorrow to
recognize the oral-systemic link and its importance to overall health.
- The relationship between oral health
diseases and diabetes showcases the oral-systemic link. The oral cavity is the window to the body and systemic diseases. Approximately, 37.3 million people in the U.S. were living with diabetes in 2020, and about 22% of patients with diabetes have
periodontal disease. The burden of periodontal disease and diabetes is even more staggering among historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, such as American Indians or Alaska Natives.
- Reducing the burden of chronic diseases,
such as diabetes, benefits from integrated efforts of oral health care and
primary health care. With approximately 75% of adults in the United States visiting the dentist in 2020, diabetes screening is opportune and cost-effective. From a diabetes perspective, primary health care professionals can raise awareness of various
oral manifestations linked to diabetes. The integration of oral health care and primary health care is crucial in controlling the progression of chronic and oral diseases.
- Oral health educators support the
integration of oral health care with primary health care to address the
oral-systemic link. ADEA supports the integration of oral health care and primary health care. Through its numerous resolutions passed in several years by the ADEA House of Delegates, ADEA supports initiatives that advances oral health students’ competencies in recognizing the oral-systemic between oral health and chronic
Integrating an oral health care and primary health care system that is ready to combat future public health challenges is essential for all health care professionals.
Read the full publication here.
To read other ADEA Policy Publications,
For any questions or comments about this project, contact Emilia Istrate, Ph.D., ADEA Senior Vice President of Policy and Education Research, at
on November 9, 2022