Diabetes and Dental Health in Washington State

Categories: Alliance News, Featured

Diabetes and Dental Health in Washington State

With a growing number of Washington State residents living with diabetes, the connection between oral health and this disease remains as important as ever.

While proper oral hygiene is crucial for everyone, those with diabetes face unique challenges to keeping their mouth healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals with high blood sugar and diabetes can face greater issues with gum disease, tooth decay and other oral infections. And since high blood sugar impacts white blood cells, the infections can last longer and be more difficult to treat, the CDC said.

Advice from an Alliance member organization:

“If I could tell everyone with diabetes and gum disease just one thing, it would be this: make sure your gums are healthy- light pink and firm; no dark pink, puffiness, or bleeding. Thoroughly brushing your teeth and gums in the morning and before bed along with receiving regular dental cleanings are two key behaviors that will help you keep your teeth for a lifetime and decrease any possible risk of experiencing a catastrophic health event like heart attack and stroke,” said Molly Melbye, DDS, MPH, Director of Clinical Innovation at Delta Dental of Washington.
“It’s pretty simple: if you’re a person with diabetes and you notice puffy or bleeding gums (inflammation), that’s a clear sign to talk to your dentist right away and ask them what you can do about it. Take advantage of your benefits and let the healthcare professionals make sure you’re as healthy as you can be. Good oral health is definitely attainable.”

Managing your blood sugar is important to ensure that you maintain proper oral health. When it comes to diabetes care, the mouth matters:

  “There is good evidence that managing oral health has an impact on the medical management of diabetes. The reduction in inflammation in the oral cavity may also reduce inflammation elsewhere in the body. For those diabetics receiving good oral care, one health plan saw a 40% reduction in admissions to the hospital in that population compared with those not receiving dental care,” said Drew Oliveira, MD, MHA, executive Director of the Washington Health Alliance. 

Read more about how Washington State performs in managing diabetes.