Diabetics with gum disease warned about blood sugar control

Mon, 31 Oct 2011
A new study has warned that diabetes patients with gum disease face problems with managing their levels of blood sugar, and recommends regular dental check-ups and care.

As diabetics are also more likely to develop serious gum disease than people without the metabolic condition, the news that scientists are now concerned that chronic periodontal disease could also have an affect on the ability to manage blood sugar levels is a worrying development, especially as it could worsen the diabetes and bring a greater risk of complications.

Researcher Doug Brothwell, from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, commented "People with diabetes are about two to three times as likely to have periodontitis as are people who don't have diabetes."

It is thought that diabetics sometimes having a higher level of glucose in their saliva could explain the health issue, as this offers a bit more food for the bacteria that grow on our teeth. As the bacteria metabolise sugar from food and saliva, it produces an immune response that can lead to inflammation and bleeding of the gums. However, this inflammation can also impact on other cells in the body and lead to insulin resistance, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Brothwell explained "The reaction is a vicious circle. When you have diabetes, it tends to then make any gum disease that you have worse. As your gum disease gets worse, it leads to an increase in systemic inflammation and your diabetes gets worse again, which in turn makes your periodontitis worse."
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