Oral Health and Diabetes

people holding up letters to spell diabetes

Is my diabetes causing my teeth to be loose?Are my bleeding gums the cause of my blood sugar levels being hard to control?

Diabetes affects more than 3 million Canadians, and many more are in the prediabetic phase. Diabetes is a chronic incurable illness that affects the body's ability to control the production and use of insulin, a hormone that allows the body's cells to use sugar.

While prediabetes is reversible with changes in lifestyle and diet, most people with prediabetes don't even know they have it, and thus are less likely to make such changes.

Research has shown that patients with diabetes are three times as likely to develop periodontitis ( gum and bone disease of the jaw) compared to those without diabetes. Over time this gum and bone disease will lead to less and less support for the teeth and eventually, this will lead to tooth loss. 20% of all tooth loss in Canada is linked to diabetes!

Conversely, research has also shown that patients with severe periodontitis are at higher risk of developing diabetes. Those who are already diabetic will also have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels if they have active periodontal disease.

What should you do if you are at risk of diabetes or already have diabetes? Be consistent with your oral hygiene at home, and see your dentist on a more frequent basis to reduce the risk of periodontitis. Effective control of periodontal disease has been shown to help better control blood sugar levels.

Dr Yamen Ghamian and Dr Habib Khoury