It is established fact that gum disease, called periodontitis, can be a cause of systemic inflammation. And patients with type 2 diabetes know that inflammation plays a major role in the disease. In addition, people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because diabetes makes you more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.
In a recent study, scientists assessed the effects of periodontal treatment on glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes. The results? They found that intensive treatment for gum disease may help some people with type 2 diabetes by lowering their blood glucose level and reducing chronic inflammation, both of which can lead to cardiovascular and kidney problems.
In this 12-month study, more than 250 patients with poorly controlled diabetes and active periodontitis participated. Over the course of a year, the patients that received more intensive gum therapy than the control group reduced their blood glucose level by an average of 0.6%. They also showed a reduction in overall inflammation, which could lower their risk of serious diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
The findings were significant, since lowering blood glucose level by just 0.6% is the equivalent of prescribing a patient an additional, second blood sugar-lowering drug. They showed a marked improvement in health and quality of life over those in the control group, whose teeth were only given a scale and polish.
The researchers are working closely with National Health Service (NHS) authorities to increase awareness of the link between gum disease and diabetes among diabetes professionals, and suggest the inclusion of dental and gum assessments for people with diabetes as standard practice. The researchers now plan a larger study at the national level to test the possible benefit of treating gum disease in patients who are at risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Call us today to schedule a screening for gum disease. And you can read more about this exciting new study at Dentistry Today.