Gum Disease Treatment May Improve Diabetes Symptoms

Dentistry Today


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, reports the University College London Eastman Dental Institute.

More than 250 patients with poorly controlled diabetes and active periodontitis participated in the study. After 12 months, those who received the more intensive gum therapy had reduced their blood glucose level by an average of 0.6%. They also showed reduced chronic inflammation, which could lower their risk of serious diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

“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 in the body, which both could promote the development of kidney and vessel damage if sustained for long periods of time,” said Francesco D’Aiuto, PhD, lead researcher and professor of periodontology.

“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,” said D’Aiuto.   

“We were delighted with the improvement in health and quality of life of those in the test group compared with those in the control group whose teeth were only given a scale and polish,” said D’Aiuto. 

The researchers are closely working with National Health Service (NHS) authorities to increase awareness of the link between gum disease and diabetes among diabetes professionals, suggesting the inclusion of dental and gum assessments for people with diabetes as standard practice.

“This new research helpfully builds on what we already know about the importance of patients with diabetes receiving vital gum assessments, and it allows us to work closer with the wider NHS to improve the overall health and quality of everyday life for these patients,” said Sara Hurley, chief dental officer of England.

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.

The study, “Systemic Effects of Periodontitis Treatment in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A 12 Month, Single-Centre, Investigator-Masked, Randomized Trial,” was published by The Lancet: Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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