“The relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is a two-way street. Not only are people living with diabetes more likely to get periodontal disease—chronic infection of the gums—but people living with chronic, uncontrolled gum infections may be more likely to develop diabetes.
How We Work >
We work to provide quality integrated oral and primary healthcare services.
In Illinois, nearly one in five adults age 65 or older have lost all their teeth from decay or gum disease. That is why Michael Reese has funded over $3.3 million to support oral health services in Illinois.
Our Work With Community Health
About 10 percent of our patient population has diabetes, and a subset of those patients really struggle to keep their diabetes under control. Most people with diabetes have an A1c level, or average blood sugar, below 7 percent; we were seeing A1c levels greater than 9. Several years ago, we went a step further in our integration and began piloting the Diabetes Care Group for these patients.
The care group crosses disciplines: physicians, dentists, nurses, social workers and a clinical pharmacist review each case together and make recommendations. Participating patients receive regular assessment and titration of their treatment, plus priority scheduling for dental services, with automatic recalls every three to six months. They also receive oral hygiene instruction from trained nurses.
We’ve been tracking outcomes and the results have been more than encouraging. Of the 67 care group patients who received dental services, the average drop in A1c was 2.1 percent, compared to 1.2 percent for patients with diabetes who were not part of the care group and received no dental services.
One care group patient—a 60-year-old Latina woman who came to us in 2014 with an A1c of 14.1—stands out in particular. She started receiving intensive dental services in 2016; over the past year, she has been seeing our endocrinologist, as well. Her most recent A1c was 7.1, which is excellent. It’s a great example of the kind of outcomes we can achieve with primary, dental and specialty care working in collaboration in one place.”