The Diabetes and Oral Health Connection

This National Children's Dental Health Month, we want to highlight how diabetes and oral health can be connected for children. Approximately 352,000 children and adolescents younger than age 20 years have diagnosed diabetes.1 Below, we will share a personal story from a Delta Dental team member of how their child has navigated their Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.

Delta Dental of North Carolina is excited to be partnering with The Diabetes Family Connection (DFC) this year to support their Camp to Community program as the Education Sponsor! The Diabetes Family Connection's camp is a unique opportunity to educate children living with Type 1 Diabetes in an environment where they can be feel understood and supported.


SherryBurchetteThe story of how DFC camp continues to transform one family's life, 29 years later

By: Sherry Burchett

Delta Dental of North Carolina Strategic Client Consultant

In February of 1995, I received news that parents most fear, which was to learn that my child was diagnosed with a disease that would affect every day of his life. At the age of 10 (one month from turning 11), my son Brent (Gilbert) was diagnosed with type one diabetes. Even though 29 years have passed since that day, I will never forget the feelings I experienced the week Brent was hospitalized – fear, anxiousness, sadness. I drew strength from the medical team and family members during that week. But the greatest strength I received was from watching Brent listen intently as medical personnel educated us on what was to come after he was discharged – checking and logging blood sugars, how to inject insulin, carb counting, and more. I recall someone on the medical team showing us how to do injections and Brent looking at her, saying, “I can do the injections myself.” He was much stronger than I was.

Not long after Brent was discharged, I received a call from the mom of a son with T1D asking if she and her son Adam could come for a visit. I was so excited to meet them and for Brent to have someone to talk to about living with T1D. During that visit, we learned of a camp for children living with type 1 that took place in the summer. Registration would open soon, so the timing could not have been better! What a blessing it was – one that, at the time, we did not know would forever positively impact Brent’s life (as well as mine and our family’s). Brent continued to go to camp every year after that. He was involved as a camper, a counselor in training (CIT), and a counselor. I have been amazed by Brent’s commitment over the years - dedicating his time throughout college and beyond alongside others with whom he made lifelong friendships, all from one camp focused on supporting children with type 1 diabetes. Brent continues to attend camp today, but now he serves as a DFC Board member and works to make camp open to all who need it.

The impact camp had on our family is enormous, and for this reason, I serve as a member of The DFC’s Community Engagement Committee. In sharing camp’s impact with others in my life, the organization I work for, Delta Dental of North Carolina, has even joined in supporting camp and those living with type 1 diabetes. I am honored to say that Delta Dental agreed to be the Education Sponsor for The DFC’s newest program, Camp to Community, coming to Hickory on March 23rd. I am excited to be part of offering a camp experience to children who might otherwise not be able to spend a week at camp. A day filled with fun activities, an opportunity to bond with other children living with type 1, and for parents to have a chance to meet other parents as well as receive education. I hope that I can meet you there and share camp with all of you.

Thank you, Delta Dental and The DFC, for letting me share my story of how the power of community continues to positively transform my family's life with diabetes.

- Sherry Burchett, T1D mom, DFC Supporter, and community powerhouse!



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Why is good oral health important for children with diabetes? 

Gum disease has been associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes. Having less than optimal diabetes glucose levels over time triples your risk for developing gum disease, and having gum disease can make you more resistant to insulin. This can lead to a dangerous cycle. Those with diabetes may also experience an increased risk of developing cavities, dry mouth, and other oral complications.2

If you think that your child with diabetes is suffering from gum disease, it is important to visit the dentist so they can identify the problem and create a treatment plan. 

Signs of gum disease include:

              • Red, swollen, bleeding, or receding gums

              • Loose teeth

              • Increased space between your teeth 

              • Dry mouth

              • Persistent bad breath, even after brushing teeth



What habits can help improve oral and overall health? 


Be sure to keep these habits in mind to prevent gum disease and reduce other oral health consequences that can stem from diabetes:

            • Preventive dentist visits: Skipping dentist appointments in the short-term may not seem like a big deal,   but it can lead to costly consequences for your health and wallet in the long-term. 

            • Maintaining a healthy diet: This is especially important for those with diabetes to ensure that your glucose levels remain at a safe level and aren't increasing your risk of gum disease.

            • Brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing once per day: These habits are a great way to reduce the risk of gum disease and to help reduce inflammation throughout the body. 


1. Statistics about diabetes. Statistics About Diabetes | ADA. (n.d.).

2. Diabetes and gum disease. Diabetes and Gum Disease | ADA. (n.d.).