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Is Gum Disease Complicating Your Diabetes?

October 29, 2018 2 min read

A studyby UCL in England has shown a new correlation between periodontitis (gum disease) and managing your blood sugar.

What is Periodontitis?

One of the most common human diseases, periodontitisis inflammation of the gums and the teeth's structural issues.

While periodontal bacteria occur naturally in the mouth, they become dangerous when layers of food debris and bacteria build up over time.

This buildup is called plaque. And when left untreated for long periods of time, these bacteria can produce harmful by-products that stimulate the body's defensive inflammatory response in the gums. 

Over long periods of time, this can progress and become chronic inflammation and cause permanent damage to the jaw bone and even loss of teeth. 

Does treating gum disease help diabetics lower blood sugar? 

Over 250 patients with poorly-controlled diabetes and gum disease (periodontitis) took part int he trial. And after 12 months those who received more intensive gum therapy had their blood glucose level reduced by an average of 0.6%. 

Furthermore, patients had decreased inflammation - which is a notable finding as it could help limit diabetes-related health complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

The first study of it's kind

Lead researcher, Professor Francesco D'Aituo (UCL Eastman Dental Institute), said: "Gum disease is closely linked to diabetes and it is well known that it can lead to a higher blood glucose level as well as chronic inflammation around the body, which both could promote the development of kidney and vessel damage if sustained for long periods of time.

"This is the first long-term, randomized study to show a substantial benefit of treating gum disease on diabetes control.

"Lowering blood glucose level by 0.6% is the equivalent of prescribing a patient an additional, second blood sugar lowering drug."

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