300 Wellington Street East, Aurora, ON L4G 1J5 I (905) 727-7043

Diabetes and Oral Health: A Surprising Connection

October 25th, 2017


Diabetes and Oral Health:

A Surprising Connection Modern medicine is phenomenal. Advances made in the last 150 years support unprecedented quality of life. We live longer and better, but the unfortunate drawback of knowing what makes us well is knowing what makes us unwell, and why. Connections between conditions, behaviours and other conditions - in ways not thought possible- inundate us as new ailments, concerns and problems. Diabetes These connections often start with common conditions like diabetes. While familiar to most it's a disease that is not always well understood. Diabetes is chronic, and can be fatal when not properly controlled. The disease leads to high blood sugar levels that can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. People with diabetes can either not produce the insulin hormone (Type 1 Diabetes) or not properly use the insulin they produce (Type 2 Diabetes). Insulin controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood, and allows the human body to convert glucose into energy.


Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, is a common inflammatory condition in the mouth. Like diabetes, periodontitis is a chronic condition affecting a good percentage of the population. Periodontitis occurs when harmful bacteria accumulate in the mouth as dental plaque. If periodontitis isn't diagnosed and treated it can lead to painful, damaging symptoms that eventually destroy the supporting structures of the teeth, including surrounding bone. Various factors increase the chances of developing periodontitis including stress, smoking and...diabetes.


Linking the Two

Academic reading on the link between diabetes and periodontal disease makes the facts plain: diabetics are more likely to contract infections, and if you have diabetes, you're more likely to develop periodontal disease. The link isn't direct, but I like to remind my patients that a connection between the two exists.

Some argue that periodontitis is a complication of diabetes: "Epidemiological data confirm that diabetes is a major risk factor for periodontitis; susceptibility to periodontitis is increased by approximately threefold in people with diabetes." (Periodontitis and diabetes: a two-way relationship)

More interestingly, the same group argues that "there is emerging evidence to support the existence of a two-way relationship between diabetes and periodontitis, with diabetes increasing the risk for periodontitis, and periodontal inflammation negatively affecting glycaemic (insulin, ed.) control." (same as above)

In short, diabetes and periodontal disease are on a two-way street: it's easier for diabetics to develop periodontal disease, and periodontal disease makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar.


Managing the Problem - Treating Periodontitis for people with diabetes

Knowing that you may have complications with periodontitis arising from diabetes, what's next? How do you manage the situation with preventative steps? For starters, adults with controlled diabetes and healthy gums should visit their dentist every six months. The screening should include gum measurements that let the dentist monitor gum recession and look for serious inflammation. Either is an indicator that periodontitis could be taking hold- cause for concern, but not unmanageable in its early stages.

If you have bleeding gums or mild gum disease you should plan to have your teeth cleaned every three months. Again, your dentist should also take measurements to monitor the extent of the problem and prevent the tissues from breaking down.

Ultimately it's about dialogue. No one expects you to know the steps to take in every situation, but it's up to you to contact your dentist and get some answers. If you're diabetic and concerned about periodontitis, give my office a call or speak to the receptionist when you're next in. I'd also love to get your thoughts by email at:


Our Hours

Mondays 9am to 5pm
Tuesdays 9am to 2pm
Wednesdays 9am to 8pm
Thursday 9am to 5pm
Friday 9am to 1pm
Saturday 8am to 3pm (alternating Saturdays)
Sundays CLOSED


300 Wellington Street East,
Aurora, ON L4G 1J5


© Wellington Aurora Dental