Gum Disease And Its Link To Diabetes

Diabetic patient testing their blood sugar levels

Diabetes is a lifelong disease affecting 285 million people worldwide. In our previous blog post, we explored gum disease and its link to preterm births. Now, let’s look at gum disease and its link to diabetes.

Although people with diabetes are known to be at increased risk of gum disease, it has been unclear which of these diseases comes first. Many studies have shown that treating gum disease can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes1. Alternatively, other studies have suggested that the reverse may also be true2. Either way you look at it, the latest research suggests that diabetics must become more aware of the role gum disease plays in their overall health and be more proactive in improving both.

Dr. Robert Genco, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Oral Biology at the University of Buffalo, has been a leader in this field. In his ground breaking research involving the Native American population, Dr. Genco showed that gum disease infections in diabetics led to worsened glycemic control, and that treating their gum disease helped improve blood sugar levels3. Numerous studies published since then have supported this theme, linking diabetics with poor blood sugar control to more frequent and severe gum disease infections and tooth loss4. Research has suggested that treating gum disease can even lower the cost of treating diabetes5. In one 11 year trial, gum disease was shown to be a strong predictor of mortality in diabetic patients6.

Currently, it is still unknown if diabetes causes gum disease or if the reverse is true. Either way, there is a need for diabetic patients to become more informed of the implications oral health has on their condition. To learn more about gum disease and the oral systemic link, feel free to check out a free textbook on gum disease and overall health here.

  1. American Academy of Periodontology. AAP Supports the International Diabetes Federation Guideline on Oral Health for People with Diabetes. Nov 3 2009
  2. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-complications/gum-disease.html
  3. http://www.sdm.buffalo.edu/oralbiology/home.asp?f=rjgenco
  4. Jones et al. Does Periodontal Care Improve Glycemic Control? The Department of Veteran Affairs Dental Diabetes Study. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. Vol 34(1): 46-52 Jan 2007.
  5. University of Michigan (2009, January 8). Treating Gum Disease Linked To Lower Medical Costs For Patients With Diabetes
  6. Saremi et al.  Periodontal Disease and Mortality in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. Jan 2005. Vol 28(1)27-32

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One Response to “Gum Disease And Its Link To Diabetes”

  1. This is a wonderful article. Has given me a lot of ideas for my website and future promotions.

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