Study finds link between periodontitis and diabetes

January 31, 2013
Issue 1

Scientific evidence linking type 2 diabetes with a greater risk of periodontitis continues to increase. The December 2012 volume of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice includes a study showing individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus exhibited an even stronger association with risk of periodontitis.

Scientific evidence linking type 2 diabetes with a greater risk of periodontitis continues to increase.

The December 2012 volume of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice includes a study showing individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus exhibited an even stronger association with risk of periodontitis.

The study authors are from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry. It is one of the largest prospective investigations evaluating the association between periodontitis and diabetes.

Here’s how the study worked: When researchers received a questionnaire reporting newly-diagnosed diabetes, those surveyed were immediately sent a supplemental diabetes questionnaire. The second round of questioning was designed to collect data on the date of diagnosis, symptoms at the time, blood glucose levels and more. Additionally, data on several known risk factors for periodontitis and tooth loss- potential confounders, too- were updated using the questionnaires.  

In an age-adjusted model, it was found that the risk of periodontitis was 39 percent higher in men with type 2 diabetes than in men without. Also, diabetes was associated with a 22-percent increased risk of tooth loss compared with those without.

"In this study with 20 years of follow-up, [type 2 diabetes] was significantly associated with greater risk of self-reported periodontitis," the researchers write.

"These results hold important public health implications due to the associations between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease and nutritional alterations associated with tooth loss," the study authors added. "Greater collaboration between diabetes care providers and dentists could be used to identify at-risk patients in both clinical settings."

In a related story, research presented by the American Association of Dental Research shows that periodontal treatment and appropriate dental care can help lower the medical costs for diabetic patients.  And here, Dr. Mark Ryder, director of periodontology at the University of California San Francisco, lays out what you need to know about the relationship between oral health and diabetes in general.