Dental Health Tips to Reduce the Risks of Diabetes

by Donna Pleis

DiabetesAccording to the American Diabetes Foundation (, more than 26 million Americans have diabetes and close to 79 million are at risk for developing the life-long disease. If you’re one of the 105 million struggling with or at risk for diabetes your healthcare and medical costs could continue to skyrocket. Did you know that those diagnosed with the disease spend a combined $245 million on treatment per year? That, too, poses as a frightening and staggering statistic.

In addition to the costs of general hospitalization treatment, one health cost that many fail to regard is that of dental. In particular, those with diabetes have increased levels of abnormal blood sugar that in turn, increases the likelihood of developing mouth infections. Should an infection like gum disease be present, treatment can be more difficult due to the thickening of blood vessels and increased bacteria levels, therefore it may be harder to keep blood sugar levels under control. Studies have proven that this correlation works the other way around, too: those with increased risk of gum disease can have a higher chance of complications of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and ulcers.

Proactive planning of routine checkups and cleanings are a preventative measure that combined with brushing and flushing can help to reduce ones’ risk of cavities, gum disease, and oral issues.  The potential for savings in overall medical costs, direct dental costs and indirectly, auxiliary medical costs, is tremendous for an individual vulnerable to diabetes.

The following are tips for proper dental care:

  1. Brush and floss twice (or more), daily. Lack of brushing and flossing can cause swollen gums, which may release germs into the bloodstream, contributing to clots and deposits in the blood vessels.
  2. When flossing, scrape the floss against the tooth several times, and rinse after flossing.
  3. Remember to brush the tongue, which can also house bacteria.
  4. Use Listerine®, or other mouthwash products, to combat germs and bacteria left behind after brushing and flossing. The germs in the mouth are the same that contribute to the development of ulcers.
  5. Ask your dentist about the use of a mouth guard. Oftentimes, those who grind their teeth – diabetics included – can increase their chance for receding gum lines, and the use of a mouth guard helps to prevent such deterioration.

At the end of the day, dental health is important for any individual, with or without diabetes. As the cost of living and healthcare continue to increase, awareness and measures should be taken to reduce both risk of disease and any associated costs.

For information on diabetes, please visit: National Diabetes Website.