Study results from the Marquette University School of Dentistry suggest chronic periodontal disease may increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.The research ties the incidence of diabetes in patients with periodontal disease to the release of bacteria into the bloodstream that triggers a reaction from the immune system.
Immune system cells can release proteins called cytokines that can disrupt production of insulin, the hormone that is key to diabetes, the researchers said. "In the pancreas, the cells responsible for insulin production can be damaged or destroyed by high levels of cytokines," said Dr. Anthony Iacopino from the Marquette University School of Dentistry. "Once this happens, it may induce Type 2 diabetes, even in otherwise healthy individuals with no other risk factors for diabetes."
The research also points to high cholesterol, or lipid, levels as a risk factor for people who are already diabetic developing periodontal disease. "Low fat diets, lipid lowering drugs and exercise are vitally important for diabetics who want to improve their quality of life, as well as their oral health," Dr. Iacopino noted.