When it comes to diabetes and dental health matters, people with diabetes face a higher-than-average risk of developing gum disease and tooth loss. A recent study found that those with chronic gum disease had a 26% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Gum disease can also increase blood sugar levels, causing complications for people with diabetes.
Gum disease damages the bones that hold teeth in place. It causes gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets between teeth and gums that can fill with germs and lead to infection. Because people with diabetes are less able to fight infections, blood sugar may rise and bone loss may progress quickly.
Other dental issues associated with diabetes
According to the American Dental Association, poor blood sugar control increases your risk of developing other oral issues:
- You may produce less saliva, which can cause dry mouth
- Lower levels of saliva also make you vulnerable to getting cavities
- You may have problems tasting food properly
- You’re more likely to get infections inside your mouth, such as thrush
Managing your oral health can help reduce the severity of diabetes
In addition to controlling your blood sugar level through medication and diet, regular dental visits help prevent gum disease. Practicing good oral hygiene also lowers your HbA1c (the lab test that shows your average level of blood sugar and how well you’re controlling your diabetes), so it’s important to:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and after meals with a soft brush and floss daily. If you wear dentures, clean them every day.
- Let your dentist and dental hygienist know of any changes in your condition or medication you’re taking.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, we'll provide you with two extra cleanings each year in addition to the two included in your plan. All you need to do is make an appointment with a participating dentist. To find a provider in your network, sign in to regence.com or the Regence app and select Find Care.