A Healthy Mouth Didn't Help Control Diabetes

Periodontitis treatment did not help control blood sugar levels in diabetes patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Could better dental health help with managing blood sugar and controlling diabetes?

A recent study looked at a treatment for type 2 diabetes patients who had periodontitis, or chronic irritation in the tissues supporting the teeth.

The researchers wanted to see if improved dental health and decreased inflammation would help control blood sugar levels.

Results showed that the treatment group and the control group both had similar blood sugar levels after six months, despite improved dental health in the treatment group.

The authors of this study concluded that nonsurgical periodontitis treatment was not effective for helping to control blood sugar in patients with diabetes.

"If you have bleeding, sensitive gums, ask your dentist about periodontitis."

Steven Engebretson, DMD, MS, of the Department of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry at New York University College of Dentistry, led this study on periodontitis and diabetes.

According to the authors of the study, some research has linked type 2 diabetes to inflammation, or the irritation of tissues in the body.

Chronic periodontitis is a disorder in which the tissues supporting the teeth are chronically inflamed, frequently causing redness, bleeding and swelling in the gums.

Periodontitis can cause pockets to form between the teeth and gums, which could lead to infection and tooth loss.

The researchers claimed that individuals with diabetes are at greater risk for periodontitis than individuals without diabetes.

These researchers investigated the link between a periodontitis treatment and blood sugar levels. They recruited 514 type 2 diabetes patients with periodontitis between November 2009 and March 2012 to participate in a clinical trial.

The treatment group, which included 257 patients, underwent at least 160 minutes of scaling and root planing to remove any inflammation-causing plaque or build-up. They also received oral hygiene instructions and an oral rinse.

The control group received only oral hygiene instructions.

The researchers followed up with the participants after three and six months. During the follow-ups, the participants in the control group received another one-hour scaling and root planing session.

At six months, the researchers looked for a change in blood sugar levels and measures of periodontitis.

The researchers found that blood sugar levels did not change significantly for either group during the three-month and six-month follow-up visits.

The treatment group did exhibit improved dental health and hygiene after six months. On average, their pocket depths were 0.28 millimeters shallower and their teeth bled 13.1 percent less upon probing.

The authors of this study concluded that the nonsurgical periodontal therapy did not improve the diabetes patients' blood sugar levels. However, the treatment group did have improvements with regard to dental health.

These authors noted that the findings did not support use of nonsurgical periodontitis treatment to improve blood sugar control in diabetes patients.

This study was published in JAMA on December 17.

The trial was funded through grants from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The authors disclosed some financial ties to some medical groups.

Review Date: 
December 16, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014