Poor dental health can be a danger for people with diabetes

Poor dental health can be a danger for people with diabetes

Your smile isn’t just about looking good. It can say a lot about your overall health. If you or any of your employees are one of the nearly 30 million Americans living with diabetes1, it is even more important. Diabetics are at a higher risk for gum disease and other oral problems. They are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and this can affect their ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.1

You may have heard that people living with diabetes need to take care of their gums, but did you know that the threat goes both ways? People with diabetes are more prone to getting gum disease.

Likewise, serious gum disease has the potential to contribute to the progression of diabetes.1

Around 95 percent of people with diabetes have gum disease2. This can make it difficult to control their blood sugar levels.2 Extra care is needed to make sure they brush and floss regularly. Plus, they need to get regular checkups two times a year. This helps to prevent more costly and time- consuming dental issues down the road.3

The symptoms3 of gum disease are easy to spot:

  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer-appearing teeth

You can help your employees with diabetes remember these three things:

  1. Spot warning signs of gum trouble early
  2. Have teeth cleaned and checked every six months
  3. Make sure their dentist knows they have diabetes


Your oral health is closely linked to your overall health.4 Adults who get regular dental checkups report having better oral health. They also say they enjoy better physical and emotional well-being.5

Simply taking care of your teeth and gums can have a big impact on your quality of life – and that’s certainly something to smile about.

More information:

Did you know that most Dental Blue® plans cover preventive services at 100 percent with no deductible? It’s true! Learn more about dental benefits from Blue Cross NC at BlueCrossNC.com/GreatSmile. Then, encourage your employees to call their dentist to schedule a checkup.

Don’t have a regular dentist?

Log in at BlueCrossNC.com/LocalDentist to find one!


  1. “Is There an Association Between Gum Disease and Diabetes – Is there a Two-Way Street?” American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral-health.html (Accessed October 2018)
  2. “Oral Health – Total Health: Know the Connection.” American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Online: https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7228_Oral_Health_Total.pdf (Accessed October 2018)
  3. “Health Info – Gum Disease.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Online: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info (Accessed October 2018).
  4. “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General (Executive Summary).” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Online: www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/surgeon-general (Accessed October 2018)
  5. “Long-term Dental Visiting Patterns and Adult Oral Health” NCBI – PMC – US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821461/ (Accessed October 2018)


Brigette Sullivan

About Brigette Sullivan

Brigette Sullivan is a Principal Strategic Advisor on the Ancillary Segment team at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. She is an advocate for focusing on overall well-being through proper diet and exercise. She enjoys yoga, gardening, drawing and entertaining with friends.