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Diabetes

The role of oral health in diabetes is a two-way street. Not only are people with diabetes more likely to get serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may affect blood glucose control and worsen the severity of diabetes.

Periodontal disease and diabetes

Periodontal disease, which damages bones that hold teeth in place, is the most common dental issue affecting nearly 22% of people with diabetes. This condition causes gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets between teeth and gums that can fill with germs and pus. Because people with diabetes are less able to fight infections, blood sugar may rise and bone loss may progress quickly.

Other dental issues associated with diabetes

Poor blood sugar control increases your risk of other dental health concerns:

  • You may have less saliva, which causes your mouth to feel dry
  • Because saliva protects your teeth, you’re more likely to get cavities
  • You may have problems tasting food properly
  • Your wounds won’t heal as quickly
  • You’re more likely to get infections, such as thrush, inside your mouth

Managing your oral health can help manage diabetes

Teamwork between you and your dentist will help keep you and your smile healthy. In addition to controlling your blood sugar level with medication, a healthy diet, and exercise, these steps can help:

  • Regular dental visits and cleanings are important. Remember to let your dentist and dental hygienist know of any changes in your condition or medication you’re taking.
  • Practice good oral hygiene to lower your HbA1c. Brush your teeth twice a day and after meals with a soft brush and floss daily. If you wear dentures, clean them every day.

Personalized benefits at no additional cost

To help manage the condition and improve oral health, HMSA’s Oral Health for Total Health program provides enhanced dental benefits for plan members who are diagnosed with diabetes. These benefits are covered 100%, with no out-of-pocket expenses when seeing a participating provider.

  • Two additional cleanings or periodontal maintenance visits per year (total of four).
  • If your plan includes periodontal coverage, periodontal scaling is covered at 100% with no out-of-pocket expense. Often referred to as a deep cleaning, periodontal scaling reaches below the gumline to remove the buildup of plaque and toxic bacteria.

Members with health and dental plans from HMSA who have a diagnosis of diabetes are enrolled automatically. Dental members who don’t have a health plan with HMSA can easily enroll online.

To use your Oral Health for Total Health benefits, simply make an appointment with your dentist. To find a dentist in your plan’s network, visit our provider directory.