Diabetes and periodontal disease often appear together. Uncontrolled diabetes can make periodontal disease worse. Untreated periodontal disease can make it difficult to control a diabetic's blood sugar.
Now, for the first time, a study has shown that moderate to severe periodontal disease increases the risk of diabetes later in life. Researchers from Columbia University School of Public Health did the study. They used information from a national survey done between 1982 and 1992.
The study included information on 7,168 adults. They all had at least one tooth and did not have diabetes in when first observed in 1982.
Of these adults, 53% had some form of periodontal disease. They were divided into five groups, based on how severe their disease was.
The researchers then looked to see which adults were newly diagnosed with diabetes between 1982 and 1992.
Compared with people who had no periodontal disease:
- People with no or mild periodontal disease were not at risk of diabetes.
- People with moderate periodontal disease were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
- People with more severe periodontal disease had an increased risk of diabetes. However, the risk was not as high as it was in the moderate disease group.
People who lost a lot of teeth during the 10-year period were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than people who lost fewer teeth.
Experts say that diabetics are more likely than non-diabetics to get periodontal disease. People with diabetes are more prone to infections. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection. Medical experts see periodontal disease as a complication of diabetes. This study shows that in some cases, periodontal disease may be a risk factor for diabetes.
The study appears in the July issue of Diabetes Care.