Building a Total Diabetes Healthcare Team


Building a Total Diabetes Healthcare Team

This post is sponsored by Colgate®. Opinions are my own.

DiabetesSisters has teamed up with Colgate Total®, a strategic partner of the American Diabetes Association®, to talk about being Totally Ready for life with diabetes.  For me, being totally ready includes many details, both big and small.  I make sure my purse is stocked with everything I need to treat high or low blood sugars and also has spares of all my diabetes supplies.  I put notes on my calendar to remind me when I need to refill prescriptions so I don’t run out.  I count my carbs, check my blood sugar, wear my CGM, and dose my insulin.  I’m working on establishing a regular exercise routine.  These are just a few of the pieces of my total diabetes management.

Another vital part of getting myself ready for life with diabetes is building a solid diabetes healthcare team and seeing them all regularly.  For the past fourteen years, I’ve been seeing an endocrinologist who is a great fit for me.  We work on my diabetes together, we are both open to listening to what each of us has to say, and if we disagree on something we hear each other out and work to create a compromise.

The same goes for my optometrist.  She has been part of my healthcare team since I was in high school.  She has seen me through some small eye problems and is always supportive and encouraging.  I’m hopeful that my regular exams with her will help minimize the risk of any bigger eye problems.   However, if problems do arise I feel confident that she will be able to recommend the best course of treatment for me.

Until recently, there was one big gap in my diabetes healthcare team, and that had to do with oral health.  Bad experiences with a childhood dentist that never used novocaine kicked off a fear of getting dental care.  In adulthood, I began bouncing from one dental practice to the next, having bad experience after bad experience, until I avoided dental appointments completely.  This is a problem for anyone, but it is even riskier for people with diabetes.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop gum disease.  Recently, my years of avoiding the dentist caught up with me.  I began having extremely painful toothaches that interfered with eating and sleeping.  I knew it was time to find a dental practice I felt comfortable with to complete my total diabetes healthcare team.

I did some research on dentists in my area who are covered by my insurance plan.  I asked local friends and family for recommendations.  And I thought hard about the experiences I had at other dental practices that kept me from going back.  I made a long list of concerns and also made an honest list of what does and doesn’t work for me.  At my first appointment with my new dentist, I let her know that in the past I’ve felt bullied and humiliated at dentist appointments.  I admitted being embarrassed about how long I had neglected my dental health but that I truly wanted to turn that around.  I also let her know that I was looking for someone who would be compassionate and encouraging.

I’m happy to say that my new dentist, and her entire practice, more than met my hopes and expectations.  She let me know that my gums are healthy, with no signs of gum disease, and we discussed ways to keep my gums as healthy as possible. Plus, I also have Colgate Total, the only FDA approved toothpaste‡ that can reverse and prevent gingivitis, an early form of gum disease, on my side.

I do have several upcoming appointments for things like wisdom teeth that need to be removed and fillings that need to be replaced, but it feels good to finally be taking control of my dental health.  I am relieved to have found a dental practice that I will be seeing regularly and to complete my Colgate Total oral care regime. After all, there’s something about a healthy smile that makes you feel Totally Ready for life.


DiabetesSisters has teamed up with Colgate Total to talk about being totally ready for life with diabetes. Karen Graffeo, diagnosed with diabetes in 1979, is the Program Manager of this national, non-profit organization, focused on educating and supporting women living with diabetes. 

Centers for Disease Control:

‡Colgate Total® toothpaste is approved through the New Drug Application process to help prevent gingivitis. Not approved for the prevention or treatment of serious gum disease or other diseases.