Nearly half of American adults have some form of gum disease.(1) What these people may not know is that gum disease increases their risk of diabetes, or worse, is endangering their health if they already have diabetes.

Just because you don’t have diabetes doesn’t mean you are in the clear. Research suggests that diabetes and gum disease have a two-way relationship—having diabetes increases the risk of gum disease, and having gum disease increases the risk of diabetes.(2) Either way, the advice is the same: amp up oral health preventive care, which is key to preventing and controlling the spread of gum disease.

Preventive care includes:

• Regular dental checkups and cleanings
• Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time
• Flossing daily
• Maintaining a healthy diet

Practicing a good oral health routine is vital for everyone. It is particularly important for those with diabetes, because catching gum disease early plays a significant role in successfully treating it. People with diabetes who follow a good oral health routine are likely to notice changes in their mouths earlier than those who don’t. These changes may include:

• Gums that are red, swollen, tender or bleeding
• Gums that have pulled away from teeth
• Pus between the teeth and gums
• Bad breath
• Loose teeth that move away from each other

An American Journal of Preventive Medicine study shows that early treatment of gum disease in people with diabetes resulted in fewer hospitalizations and lower medical costs than those who did not receive follow-up care.(3) Over the study period, the average annual cost of medical care for people with Type 2 diabetes with untreated gum disease was $7,056; for people with diabetes who had treated gum disease, the average was $4,216—a 40 percent savings, with 40 percent fewer hospital admissions.(3)

For more information on diabetes, gum disease and other oral health topics, visit our Delta Dental of Indiana website.

ABOUT DELTA DENTAL: As the state’s largest dental benefits carrier, Delta Dental of Indiana offers a full range of individual and group dental plans for more than 660,000 people. Through education, philanthropy and advocacy, Delta Dental of Indiana is bringing oral health within reach for Indiana children and adults.

Works Cited
1 “Half of American Adults Have Periodontal Disease |” American Academy of Periodontology, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
2 Preshaw, P. M., A. L. Alba, D. Herrera, S. Jepsen, A. Konstantinidis, K. Makrilakis, and R. Taylor. “Periodontitis and Diabetes: A Two-way Relationship.” Diabetologia. Springer-Verlag, Jan. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
3 Jeffcoat, Marjorie K., DMD, Robert L. Jeffcoat, PhD, Patricia A. Gladowski, RN, James B. Bramson, DDS, and Jerome J. Blum, DDS. “Impact of Periodontal Therapy on General Health.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 47.2 (2014): 166-74. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. American College of Preventive Medicine. Web.