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I know it’s important to see my doctor each year, but do I really need to go to the dentist and eye doctor regularly?


Most people know the importance of seeing their family doctor each year, but many neglect going to the dentist or eye doctor — and it can be risky. Routine dental and vision exams are vital to total health and can be early detectors for serious diseases.

  • Dental exams can detect:1
    • Diabetes
    • Heart health
    • Certain cancers
    • Stress that can lead to more serious health problems
  • Eye exams can detect:          
    • Diabetes
    • Hypertension
    • Macular degeneration
    • Glaucoma

But many of us don’t get the care we need. In fact, 47% of adults haven’t been to the dentist in the past year,2 and only half of the 93 million adults at risk for blindness have seen an eye doctor in past year.3


I don’t need to wear glasses. Why should I go to the eye doctor?

You may be struggling to see and not even realize it. The Mayo Clinic suggests that adults who don’t wear glasses should see a doctor when they turn 40 because that’s when vision starts to change, and it can help detect early diseases.4

Even if you don’t wear glasses, there are many times throughout life when your vision should be checked: 4

  • Children 3-5 should see an eye doctor to check for vision problems or issues with eye alignment.
  • School-age children entering kindergarten.
  • Adults turning 40.
  • Adults with diseases that can cause blindness, such as diabetes.
  • Adults taking medications that may cause vision problems.
  • Adults with family histories of vision problems or blindness.
  • Adults age 60 and older.

Your eye doctor can recommend how often you need to have your vision checked based on your family and health history.



Does diabetes really cause blindness?

Yes. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness of adults in America.5

And blindness from diabetes, also known as diabetic retinopathy, is predicted to increase by 50% by 2030 due to many more people developing the disease.6

Not everyone is impacted equally. Minorities are at a higher risk of going blind from diabetes, and it can be difficult in the early stages to detect potential blindness without an annual eye exam.6

If you have diabetes or are at-risk of developing diabetes, here are some tips to keep your eyes healthy:7

  • See your eye doctor at least once a year. Catching problems early is key because that’s when they’re the easiest to treat.
  • Keep blood sugar in check. High blood sugar damages blood vessels in your body, including your eyes. Over time, this can cause vision problems.
  • Watch blood pressure and cholesterol. Healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels are not only great for overall health, but they’re important to keep vision loss at bay.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking doesn’t just increase your risks for cancers and emphysema, but it also increases your risk for blindness.
  • Move. Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for overall health, including for healthy eyes.



How often do I need to go to the dentist?

It’s important to see the dentist at least once a year.8

That’s because regular visits to the dentist keep your smile bright and dentists can also see if there are other health issues.

Dentists can detect larger health issues, like bone disease, heart problems, digestion issues and stress.1 In fact, your dentist can see up to 90% of systemic diseases in your mouth.9

Over 53 million Americans live with untreated tooth decay, but routine dental visits can prevent this.10

Poor oral health and tooth decay can cause: 11

  • Heart disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Endocarditis
  • Complications with pregnancy and birth
  • Worsen ongoing health conditions, like diabetes

It’s especially important for minorities to go to the dentists, since Black and Hispanic adults are 2x more likely to have untreated oral health issues than their white counterparts.12



Tips for a Healthy Smile

In addition to going to the dentist twice a year, here are some other tips to keep your smile bright and healthy:

  • Fluoride is your friend. Fluoride is an important, natural mineral released from rocks that helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. It’s important to drink fluorinated water and brush with fluoride toothpaste, which is available in most tap water at home.13
  • Floss. In addition to brushing twice every day, flossing helps plaque from building up between teeth.
  • Limit alcohol. Unwinding each day with a glass of wine or a beer can cause dehydration and dry mouth. This reduced saliva flow in the mouth can lead to gum disease and oral infections. Alcohol consumption also greatly increases the risk for cancers in the mouth.14
  • Drink more water. When in doubt, drinking water is always the best bet for a healthy mouth. Limit sports drinks, soda, fruit juices and coffee because they can erode tooth enamel.14
  • Skip the sugar. Sugar impacts your overall health, including blood sugar, which is a problem for people with or at-risk for diabetes. But sugar is also terrible for your teeth. Sugar can coat teeth, leading to cavities, and hard candies can also crack teeth, causing dental emergencies.14



How do I find an eye doctor or dentist?

We want to make it as easy for you to get the regular and preventive screenings you need to stay healthy and happy.

  • BlueDental plans cover at least two regular exams and cleanings a year at little or no cost when seeing an in-network dentist.
  • BlueVision plans include an annual eye exam with a $10 copay.

Don’t delay. Schedule a screening with your doctor today. Log in at Find a Doctor or call 1-800-352-2583 to learn more about your benefits.

Together, we can achieve better health.



1University of Chicago College of Dentistry. “What Can My Dentist Tell Me About My Overall Health?”

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Oral and Dental Health”

3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health”

4Mayo Clinic. “Eye Exam.”

5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Basics of Vision and Eye Health”

6National Library of Medicine. “The worldwide epidemic of diabetic retinopathy.”

7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Diabetes and Vision Loss.”

8Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Oral Health Tips.”

9Academy of General Dentistry. “Importance of Oral Health to Overall Health.”

10National Library of Medicine. “Oral Health: The Silent Epidemic”

11Mayo Clinic. “Oral health: A window to your overall health.”

12Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Disparities in Oral Health.”

13Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “About Fluoride.”

14American Dental Association. “Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth.”


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