Is There a Link Between Gum Disease and Diabetes?

Spoiler Alert: Yes, there is.

You may be wondering why your dentist would need to know about medical conditions, like diabetes, that are not in your mouth. When treating you we don’t consider you to be just a mouth, we assess your treatment based on what is the healthiest solution for your whole body. According to Diabetes Canada having diabetes gives you a 75% higher risk of getting gum disease.

When most people think of complications of diabetes, they think of an increased risk of blindness, limb amputation, heart disease, and neuropathy. However, Dr. Kim and our team want you to know that recent research supports a connection between uncontrolled diabetes and dental problems. Whether you have type 2 diabetes, type 1, or gestational diabetes, uncontrolled high blood glucose levels increase the risk of certain oral health conditions, including:

  • Cavities
  • Gingivitis (early gum disease)
  • Periodontal Disease (advanced gum disease)
  • Dry Mouth
  • Oral infections
  • Thrush
  • Poor Healing

Inflammatory disease like periodontal disease can be worse for a diabetic patient since their immune system is already compromised. If you have diabetes, it is more important than ever to take your dental care seriously and practice excellent oral hygiene. Here are some recommendations from our hygienists that will help:

  1. Manage your diabetes. First and foremost, it is vital to control your high blood sugars in accordance with your physician’s instructions-not only for the sake of your oral health, but for your overall wellness. With properly controlled blood sugar, you reduce your risk of developing gingivitis and other oral health issues.
  2. Practice good at-home oral hygiene. This means brushing at least twice a day AND flossing or using other oral aids. Brush your teeth in the morning and at night at minimum, but also after meals and snacks if you can. Use a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid injuring your gums. Don’t neglect flossing or other aids like a rubber tip stimulator, proxabrush, interdental picks, because it helps to remove plaque below the gum line and between the teeth.
  3. Visit the dentist regularly. While it is important to see the dentist every six months even if you don’t have diabetes, it is even more crucial to have a professional cleaning and dental exam if you have any immune compromising condition. As dental professionals, our team at Tavistock Dental is able to give customized recommendations for you. This can be helpful in early detection of dental conditions before they develop into something more serious and costly. We may have treatments available that were not previously offered to you, like Laser Bacterial Reduction.
  4. Tell your dentist that you have diabetes. If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, or even being tested or monitored for diabetes be sure to let us know as soon as possible.
  5. Be conscientious about examining your own gums and teeth. By looking for early signs of gum disease, which can include bleeding gums, irritated gums, gums that are red (versus a healthy pink colour), or swelling, we can get started on treatment right away.

Managing diabetes takes effort, not only in watching your diet, exercising, monitoring your blood sugar levels, and taking your medication, but obtaining proper dental care. We want to help you receive balanced care. We will make it easy for you to maintain an oral health plan with a schedule of treatment specific to you. Dr. Kim and the whole team at Tavistock Dental are behind you, just give us a call to ask a question or schedule an appointment!


Sports Mouth Guards and How They Work

If you or any of your family members play sports, you should be considering a Sports Mouth Guard. Most of you have at the very least seen the typical bulky stock mouthguards, sold at pharmacies or sporting goods stores.

There’s something important to know, not all Sports Mouth Guards are created equal.

Sports Mouth Guards work by covering your teeth and some of your gums and are meant to prevent damage to teeth, gums, lips and cheeks, by either directly covering them or by covering the teeth which could potentially traumatize them. And did you know, they can even prevent concussions?! This type of protection will also save on the cost and time it may take to repair these sports-related injuries by dentists or doctors. Remember that by the time your child is 6 to 7, they already could have adult teeth in their mouth, teeth that they will keep for the rest of their lives.

Sports Mouth Guards can help in any situation where “falls, collisions, contact with hard surfaces, and contact from sports-related equipment” can occur according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. There are estimates that up to one third of dental injuries in children are sports related. While “mouth guards” are mandatory in many sports, there are many other sports where your child could benefit from wearing a Sports Mouth Guard.

Stock mouth guards may not fit the mouth well and could cause more harm than protection as they may not cover all of the areas that require coverage (increasing chance of injury to cheeks gums) and often do no distribute forces evenly amongst all teeth (minimizing dental injuries). There are also guards that require the wearer to bite down to keep the guard in the mouth and could fall out when your child talks or opens their mouth.

Boil and bite mouth guards may adapt well to your child’s teeth, but these guards are often not very sturdy and can wear easily and become poor fitting. This type of guard tends not to last as long as a custom guard.

Custom Sports Mouth Guards will fit your child’s teeth the best and are made in a dental office. We make them here at Tavistock Dental! They can be done same-day if you’re in a big rush and will be the best at distributing the force and protecting your little athletes.


Remember that dental traumas are painful and can take multiple visits to repair, and sometimes cannot be repaired at all. The best thing for it is planning for prevention!

Did you know Tavistock Dental offers a FREE Custom Sports Mouth Guard Clinic?
Visit the office or call us for more information! 519-655-2101


Your Child’s First Trip to the Dentist

When to bring your child in for a dentist visit and what are the benefits?

There is a recent push in the dental field to see children as soon they have teeth in their mouth.  This may be different from what you might be hearing from your pediatrician who might suggest a first exam at age 4. It’s important to know that there are reasons for both these differing recommendations.

The first “visit” for your child may not end up being a full and thorough exam. The first visit, which we call a “happy visit”, introduces the child to the dental office, allows them to adjust to this new environment, and play there to see that it is not some mysterious place. If the child is cooperative, we might take a look in the mouth and acclimatize the child to having a dental health care professional look inside the mouth (“counting their teeth”) or having an instrument (i.e. a mirror) inside their mouth.

The other important and often overlooked aspect of the first visit is for the dentist and the parents to communicate about home care. Often times we are asked questions such as when to introduce brushing, flossing, fluoridated toothpaste, x rays, cleanings, dental exams, etc. Often, I see a child for their first ever dental exam at age 5 or 6 and they have multiple cavities. We want to help you minimize invasive work on your children. Work done on young children can create a lifetime fear of the dentist. For all the parents out there who have spent your days running after your children, I’m sure you all understand how hard it is to keep them sitting long enough to put shoes or a coat on them. I’m telling you, we truly sympathize as we’re trying to “put a tooth to sleep”, keep their mouth open and their tooth dry as we are working (because moisture could cause fillings to pop right out) and they would rather be outside playing.

It’s true that the first time your child allows us to take a long enough look or all the photos/x rays of their teeth that are required for proper diagnosis, they may be 4 or 5 years of age.  The sooner we get in there and take a look, we may be able to do some simpler intervention (for example a small filling with no freezing) versus more invasive techniques when they are older and more cooperative.

Some useful tips or information:

  1. Wipe your baby’s mouth with a moist fabric wipe – you can do this before there are even any teeth, it keeps the gums clean and gets your infant adjusted to having someone access their mouth
  2. Extend your children’s brushing time by playing a song – as you know, they don’t have the best dexterity but length of brushing is important too for cleanliness, play a song or video for them of approximately 2 mins
  3. Floss your children’s teeth if they have no spacing in between. A lot of kids have teeth that are spaced out and this is actually very lucky for them in a cavity sense as this makes the teeth easier to clean. When two teeth (especially back teeth) are flush against each other, bristles of the toothbrush cannot clean in between the touching surfaces and this is often where we see cavities developing
  4. Introduce fluoride toothpaste only when your child can reproducibly spit out their toothpaste and not swallow it – fluoride is not recommended for kids who swallow toothpaste as too much fluoride can discolour their developing, unerupted adult teeth
  5. X rays are taken to help us see the surfaces where two teeth touch, they’re important to be taken as soon as the child can accommodate the sensor so we can diagnose small cavities and they won’t turn into deep cavities
  6. Children should be seen at least every 6 months – baby teeth have very thin enamel compared to adult teeth. Intervention should start early as cavities grow quickly in these small baby teeth and when they get deep or painful, your child might have to lose a tooth prematurely

It’s important to understand that even if you feel like your child is too young to have an exam, the dental office still provides a rich resource of information. So we would love answer your questions!

Here are some photos of some of our favourite little people visiting us at Tavistock Dental’s office! Do you see any familiar faces?