Researchers from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health studied over 9,000 participants without diabetes from a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, 817 of whom went on to develop diabetes.
Their study showed that elevated levels of periodontal disease raised the risk of an individual's becoming diabetic in 20 years.
"These data add a new twist to the association and suggest that periodontal disease may be there before diabetes," said Ryan T. Demmer, PhD, MPH, associate research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and lead author.
"We found that over two decades of follow-up, individuals who had periodontal disease were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life when compared to individuals without periodontal disease," he added.
Moreover, the participants who had lost all of their teeth were at intermediate risk for incident diabetes.
"This could be suggestive that the people who lost all of their teeth had a history of infection at some point, but subsequently lost their teeth and removed the source of infection," said Demmer.
"This is particularly interesting as it supports previous research originating from The Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study (INVEST) which has shown that individuals lacking teeth are at intermediate risk for cardiovascular disease" said Dr Moise Desvarieux, PhD, director of INVEST, associate professor and Inserm Chair of Excellence in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and senior author of the paper.
The findings are published in the July 2008 issue of Diabetes Care.