Poor Oral Health Impacts Diabetic Complications

Dentistry Today


Oral health conditions can have a direct influence on the development of diabetic complications among patients with diabetes, reports the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry.

Multiple studies have linked periodontal disease with diabetes and its complications, the researchers said, but the new study provides the first evidence that diabetes complications are tied to oral health status.

The study tracked 5,183 medically confirmed diabetics. Participants were asked to evaluate their oral health as a stand-in for periodontal disease. They then were tracked via electronic health records for diabetes-related complications requiring medical intervention.

After adjusting for factors such as age, gender, and cultural and socioeconomic background, the researchers identified a clear risk for complications including hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, myocardial infarction, stroke, skin infection, kidney failure, dialysis, amputation, and retinopathy in those reporting “poor to fair” oral health.

For those reporting “poor to fair” oral health, the hazard of a diabetes complication was 30% greater than those reporting “good to excellent” oral health. That adds up to a significant number of diabetes complications that may be prevented with improvements in oral health, said study author Kamini Kaura Parbhakar.

Parbhakar, who obtained her master’s degree in dental public health from the University of Toronto in 2019, said that the diabetic complications have serious medical consequences. In fact, study participants who reported “poor to fair” oral health had a “slightly lower survival probability” over time.

While other international studies already have produced evidence of the links between periodontal disease and diabetes, the new study represents “the first Canadian population-level investigation of the issue and provides strong evidence that poor oral health is correlated to diabetic complications in Ontarians,” said senior author and associate professor Carlos Quiñonez, who hopes the study will help fill knowledge and policy gaps in Canada on the importance of oral health to overall health.

The study, “Risk of Complications Among Diabetics Self-Reporting Oral Health Status in Canada: A Population-Based Cohort Study,” was published by Plos One.

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