Categories: Patient Education

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is an immune deficiency disease associated with six health complications including periodontal disease as well as effecting areas such as eyes, kidneys, heart, nerves and poor wound healing.

Type II diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes was once thought to be a middle age disease but could present at any age! Diet, exercise and medications can control type II.


Type I or insulin-dependant diabetes affects primarily young people and is caused by the total absence of beta cells. Beta cells secrete insulin; a hormone that is essential in the breakdown of sugars (glucose). The body must be assisted with injections of insulin.

Did you know?

2.25 million cases of diabetes have been reported in Canada, 85-90% has type II or non-insulin dependant diabetes. And there are many cases that are undiagnosed!

How is Diabetes and Gum disease Related?

Both diseases are controlled NOT cured. Cells require sugar for energy, and in diabetes, insulin is defective and does not allow glucose to enter cells efficiently thus slowing down the healing process or causes cell death if no insulin is provided.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to boneloss, tissue break down and toothloss even when there is little plaque and calculus (tartar). There is a greater risk of more aggressive bacteria causing abscesses and increased periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is associated with heart and circulatory disease. Uncontrolled diabetes is 3 times at risk for heart and circulatory disease, making the patient high risk for periodontal disease.

Controlled diabetes results in a decrease of oral inflammation. Diabetes should be controlled through proper diet and stable insulin levels. Well-controlled diabetics can have healthier gum tissues than non-diabetic patients due to lower sugar consumption.

Other complications in the mouth with poor sugar control. (Too much sugar in saliva)

  • Dry mouth – relieved by chewing sugarless gum and lozenges
  • Burning mouth or tongue
  • Yeast infections/Thrush
  • Canker sores/Oral Ulcers
  • Poor taste/smell
  • Pain orally and facially
  • Lichen Planus

What Can You Do?

Control your diabetes. Check your blood sugar levels regularly. Wear a medi-alert bracelet. Let us know of any changes in medication and condition. Avoid smoking as it affects the immune response. Brush, floss, tongue debriment, sulk brush, interproximal aids and fluoride treatment for root exposure and visit Harris Family Dentistry frequently, every 3-6 months depending on your needs.

What can we do?

We will assess your periodontal condition and advise you of treatment that suits your individual needs. We will gladly educate you on the appropriate tools for your plaque and bacterial control with our informative self-care program.