The treatment of serious gum (periodontal) disease in diabetics with Type 2 diabetes may lower their blood sugar levels, a new study suggests.
Published in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, the study was led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and supported by colleagues at the Peninsula Dental School, the University of Ottawa and UCL Eastman Dental Institute.
The research team analysed randomised controlled trials of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who had also been diagnosed with periodontal disease. The team looked at 690 papers and included seven studies in the review that fulfilled pre-specified criteria for inclusion.
Their findings suggest that the treatment of periodontal disease can reduce blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes, although there was not enough available evidence to support the same benefit for those with Type 1 diabetes.
Current belief is that, when bacteria infect the mouth and cause inflammation, the resulting chemical changes reduce the effectiveness of insulin produced in the body, thus making it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.
The findings are key because many patients and health care professionals do not necessarily make the association between the treatment of gum disease and the control of blood sugar levels. The study suggests that the effective treatment of gum disease could have a positive impact on diabetic patients, especially those with Type 2 diabetes, because it good blood sugar control contributes to lowering the risk of serious complications linked to the condition, such as eye problems and heart disease.
Terry Simpson, lead author at the Edinburgh Dental Institute, said: "It would be wise to advise patients of the relationship between treating periodontal disease and the possibility of lowering their blood sugar levels. Additionally, an oral health assessment should be recommended as part of their routine diabetes management."