I Learned to be Ready for Anything Long Before Diabetes Came Into My Life


I Learned to be Ready for Anything Long Before Diabetes Came Into My Life

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

From an early age, I learned the importance of my smile and how it can change the way I feel when I am facing the world. My relationship with my smile started with my mother, a dental hygienist, who took me to the dentist long before my first tooth popped out of my gums. And then once that first tooth emerged, she cared for it, brushed it, and did the same for all emerging teeth. And with that one tooth or the many that came after, she always encouraged me to smile.

As I got older and I became responsible for my own hygiene, she would leave subtle (or not-so-subtle) reminders to brush my teeth by leaving my toothbrush on the bathroom counter with toothpaste already on it. It reminded me each time I went to the bathroom to smile in the mirror, check my gums and brush my teeth.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18, I learned about the many relationship of diabetes with other parts of my body – cardiovascular, circulatory, nervous, vision, and dental. Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people living with diabetes are 2x more likely to develop gum disease? Luckily, I was already armed with good habits when it came to my oral health. Once less thing to learn, right? 

For added peace of mind, there’s also Colgate Total, the only FDA approved toothpaste‡ that can reverse and prevent gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Plus, since 2008 Colgate Total has been a strategic partner of the American Diabetes Association®, which lists oral health and hygiene among its areas of diabetes treatment and care. 

My early years with diabetes were overwhelming as a young adult, but I never lost my smile. And each time I looked in the mirror once last time before heading to class or work or to visit with friends, I smiled and remembered to brush and check those gums. Somehow that habit made me ready to tackle whatever I needed to face. This simple act prepared me mentally to go into the world and claim it. 

Twenty-four years later, I still keep the same ritual. I keep a toothbrush, paste and floss in the powder room of my house, right outside my office. Before an important video or conference call, I walk in, look in the mirror, flash a big smile, check and brush. Before I head out to see my medical team – my endocrinologist, ophthalmologist, or dentist, I do the same thing. It’s my way of saying, “bring it. I can do this!”

I have found that despite the worries that a chronic disease like diabetes brings to life, smiling can alleviate some of the stress. It releases pressure from my shoulders and allows me stand taller. I could spend my days worrying about diabetes –  or, I can smile and do my best to thrive with this disease. 

I choose to smile.


DiabetesSisters has teamed up with Colgate Total to talk about being totally ready for life with diabetes. Anna Norton, diagnosed with diabetes in 1993, is the CEO of this national, non-profit organization, focused on educating and supporting women living with diabetes. 

Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/pdf/ndfs_2011.pdf

‡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.