Background The association between poor oral health and diabetes is well documented. Preventive oral health care is, therefore, strongly indicated for people with diabetes. The authors conducted a study to determine if there was a difference in preventive dental care use among older adults with diabetes in 2002 and in 2011 and to compare preventive dental care use by older adults with and without diabetes in 2002 and in 2011. Methods The authors used a data sample of participants from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey that included older (65 years and older) fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries. The key outcome was self-reported preventive dental care. In 2002, there were 8,725 participants; in 2011, there were 7,425 participants. The authors conducted χ2 and logistic regression analyses. Results In 2002, 28.8% of participants with diabetes had preventive dental care. In 2011, this percentage increased to 36.0%. Similar results were seen among participants without diabetes (42.9% in 2002 and 45.5% in 2011). The increase in preventive dental care was statistically significant for participants with and without diabetes. The participants with diabetes, as compared with participants without diabetes, remained statistically less likely to have had preventive dental care in adjusted logistic regression analysis with and without considering the interaction between observation year and diabetes (adjusted odds ratios, 0.73 and 0.86, respectively). Conclusions Although the percentage increase in participants with diabetes receiving preventive dental care is welcomed, older adults with diabetes continue to have substantial preventive dental care needs. Practical Implications Additional efforts are needed to encourage people with diabetes to obtain preventive dental care.
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