Diabetes and oral health
Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes. While many are aware of the condition’s associated risks such as stroke, eye disease and kidney disease, they may be less informed about the important connection between diabetes and oral health.
People with diabetes are generally more prone to bacterial infections like gum disease.1 Experts believe that diabetes can also reduce saliva production, another risk factor of gum disease.2
While everyone has some level of bacteria in the mouth, people with poorly controlled diabetes may experience more rapid bacteria growth due to high blood glucose (sugar). Glucose is present in saliva and bad bacteria in the mouth feeds off of it.3 When bacteria combine with food particles and other substances, it can form plaque, one of the main causes of gum disease.3
Ultimately, it’s especially important for those with diabetes and signs of diabetes to keep their mouth, teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
How does gum disease impact diabetes health risks?
Since diabetes decreases the body’s ability to fight and resist infection, it can cause gum disease to be more severe and take longer to heal. If left untreated, early gum disease (gingivitis) can progress into a serious gum infection called periodontitis. As the disease worsens, it can destroy the tissues and bone that hold the teeth in place, eventually causing tooth loss.3
Periodontitis can impact the body’s ability to control blood glucose (sugar) levels, thus making diabetes management more difficult to control.
If you have diabetes, there are things you can do to help prevent or manage gum disease.
- Practice optimal oral hygiene and dental care.
- Control blood glucose levels as best as possible.
- Avoid sweets and other empty-calorie snacks, which aren’t good for oral health or diabetes. Keep in mind that many beverages contain added sugar, and even sugar-free varieties may be high in acid – another substance that can harm teeth and gums.
Infographic: Diabetes and Gum Disease
The TRICARE Dental Program has you covered
If you or an enrolled family member have diabetes, the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) Wellness Program is available to provide additional dental benefits at no cost to you. Getting the proper dental care will have a positive effect on your overall wellness as scientists continue to uncover connections between certain chronic conditions and gum disease.
Register to use TDP Wellness Program any time after your TDP effective date. Here’s how:
Select the red "Log in to My Account" button at the top of this page and log in using your DS Logon
Select “Manage My Wellness”
- Add your medical condition
With the TDP Wellness Program’s enhanced benefits, you’ll get full coverage for certain periodontal services, including scaling and root planing and some surgical procedures, to remove the financial obstacles to total oral care. Consult the TDP benefits handbook and supplement for details.
You can download a brochure with more about oral health and diabetes here.