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Gum Disease and Diabetes

In addition to Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes, diabetes is a systemic condition linked with periodontal disease.

Elegant lady in a field

“The connection between oral health and systemic health is bidirectional; systemic illnesses, especially metabolic disorders, affect oral health, and it appears that oral health may affect systemic health.” 

(Diabetes Mellitus: Considerations for Dentistry
Srividya Kidambi and Shailendra B. Patel J Am Dent Assoc 2008;139;8S-18S)

The connection between diabetes and periodontal disease is becoming more understood thanks to advances in clinical research. As a chronic disease, diabetes is common in most populations worldwide, making it a regular occurrence for dentists to have patients with this condition.

Scientific evidence

It is now broadly accepted that people with diabetes require careful management of their oral health, therefore dentists are encouraged to play a more proactive role in identifying the potential risks that these conditions create in individual cases. Some of the latest research has highlighted the following:

  • It was previously thought that diabetic patients tended to have a high incidence and severity of periodontitis. Recent studies show evidence that the opposite is true: a prevalence of diabetes among patients with periodontitis
  • According to the European Federation for Periodontology (EFP), severe periodontitis adversely affects glycemic level in both diabetic and pre-diabetic patients
  • Depending on the severity of their periodontal disease, diabetic patients are more likely to have complications with their diabetes
  • Emerging evidence indicates an increased risk for diabetes onset in patients with severe periodontitis

What can dental professionals do?

The European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) has developed guidelines for oral health professionals in the management of periodontal diseases in relation to systemic conditions. Its advice on diabetes and the role of the dentist is summarised here:

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