What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which the metabolism of carbohydrates is impaired. Diabetes can be catergorized into two types. Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to produce insulin,a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy while in Type 2 diabetes the body fails to respond to insulin. Both cases resulting in elevated glucose level in the blood and urine. High blood sugar sets off processes that can lead to complications such as heart, kidney, and eye disease or other serious health problems.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease or gum disease is inflammation of gum which caused by bacterial infection. It not only affects the gums but also the bone supporting and holding your teeth. If left untreated, you may experience loss of teeth.

If you have diabetes, you are 3-4 times more likely to develop periodonal disease. But how is diabetes related to periodontal disease?

Blood vessel thickening is one of the complications of diabetes. Blood vessels help in delivery of oxygen and nutrient to the body tissues include gum tissues and carry away the waste products. Diabetes causes blood vessels to thicken, which slows the flow of nutrients and the removal of harmful wastes. This can weaken the resistance of gum and bone tissue to infection.

Many kinds of bacteria thrive on sugar, including gluose-the sugar linked to diabetes. When diabetes is poorly controlled, the high sugar content in mouth fluid favours the growth of germ in the gums which in turn increases the risk of developing periodontal disease.

What are the oral problems linked to diabetes?  Dry mouth.

Diabetes impairs the function of salivary glands thus decreasing the flow of saliva. Other than that, certain diabetes medications also contribute to dry mouth. Saliva is mouth’s natural protective fluid. It helps to control the growth of germs that cause tooth decay and other infections. Saliva also washes away sticky food that help form plaque and strengthens teeth with minerals.


Thrush is also known as candidiasis which is an infection caused by Candida albicans, a fungus that normally lives inside the mouth without causing any problems. But when you have diabetes, deficient saliva in your mouth and extra sugar in your saliva create a favourable environment for fungus to cause thrush. Thrush produces white or red patches in the mouth that may be sore or may become ulcer. It may attack the tongue, causing a painful and burning sensation. It also can cause difficulty in swallowing and compromise your ability to taste.

Poor wound healing.

Individuals with poor controlled blood sugar level do not heal quickly after oral surgery or other dental procedures because blood flow to the treatment site can be damaged.

I’m a diabetic, what should I do if I need oral surgey?

  • Inform your dentist that you have diabetes and discuss any specific diabetes-related issues
  • Keep your dentist informed of any changes in your condition and what medicine you take and the dosage.
  • Eat before dental visit to make sure your blood sugar is within normal range
  • Take usual medications. Your dentist should consult with your physician about whether you can adjust your diabetes medications or take an antibiotic to prevent infection before surgery.
  • Plan for your eating needs after surgery. If you’re having dental work that may leave your mouth sore, plan to eat soft or liquid foods that will allow you to eat without pain.
  • Wait until your blood sugar is under control. If your dental needs are urgent and your blood sugar is poorly controlled. Talk to your dentist and physcian about receiving dental treatments in a hospital.

What should I do to improve my oral health?

  • Control blood glucose level
  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss everyday
  • Have a regular dental check up every 6 months
  • Avoid smoking
  • For denture wearers, remove and clean denture daily. Avoid sleeping in denture.