Periodontal Disease Increases Diabetes Risk

Periodontal disease might be a contributor to the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to recent research.

Past research had established a connection between periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes, but in reverse of what’s being suggested in this study. Type 2 diabetes was thought to increase the risk of developing periodontal disease, in other words.

Periodontal diseases, which most commonly take the form of gingivitis or periodontitis, are bacterial infections that cause pain and inflammation in the tissue and bones surrounding the teeth. The result is often chronic pain and teeth loss. In addition to type 2 diabetes, smoking and of course poor dental hygienics, are known to be major risk factors for developing one of these diseases.

The current study has made the unexpected suggestion that people without previously diagnosed diabetes that develop periodontal disease, could be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

9,296 non-diabetic individuals, between 25-74 years of age, who had performed dental examinations between 1971-1976, were accounted for in the study. Some of these individuals were periodontically healthy (the controls of the current study), while others had been diagnosed with some form of periodontal disease. Six groups were established for varying degrees of periodontal disease severity, with group 5 being the most severe (group zero being periodontically healthy). Each individual had at least one follow-up examination that tested for diabetes, among other things, which enabled researchers to search for a connection between periodontal disease and the onset of type 2 diabetes.

The study found that 817 of the 9,296 individuals were diagnosed with diabetes during one of their follow-up examinations. Groups 3 through 5 had a significantly elevated rate of diabetes incidence, over groups 0-2 however. “Participants with intermediate levels of periodontal disease had a twofold increased odds of incident diabetes, and the odds remained elevated among participants with the highest levels of periodontal disease,” the study concludes. In addition, tooth loss due to periodontal disease, was the strongest of indicators for future type 2 diabetes incidence. The authors found that “advanced tooth loss was associated with an approximate 70% increased odds of incident diabetes.”

The findings of this study might lead to the establishment of periodontal disease as a major risk factor of type 2 diabetes, leading to more thorough doctoral examinations, preventative techniques, and diagnoses. “The observed 50–100% increased incident type 2 diabetes odds associated with periodontal disease is clinically relevant as it is comparable to the risk associated with other type 2 diabetes risk factors,” state the authors. They used obesity as an example comparable risk factor to periodontal disease for type 2 diabetes, and it is well established that obesity is strongly connected to diabetes. It should be noted though that certain contributors to periodontal disease, such as smoking, are known to increase diabetes incidence as well, so it might not only be the periodontal disease that is increasing diabetes risk in these individuals. Nonetheless, this studies findings could lead to a better understanding of diabetes and important new diagnostic techniques for the dangerous disease.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Demmer, Ryan. Jacobs, David. Desvarieux, Moise. Diabetes Care. “Periodontal Disease and Incident Type 2 Diabetes.” July 2008.

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