Study Links Periodontal Disease to Pre-Diabetes

Taking care of your gums could mean staving off diabetes.

According to a study in a recent issue of the Journal of Periodontology, periodontal disease may contribute to the progression of pre-diabetes, a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not enough to be classified as diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 54 million Americans suffer from pre-diabetes. Of those, many will develop type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years.

A team of Denmark researchers conducted a study with animal models known to exhibit pre-diabetes characteristics and concluded that having periodontal disease such as gingivitis or aggressive periodontitis can cause patients to develop pre-diabetic characteristics. They also found that periodontal disease can disturb glucose regulation and may ultimately contribute to the progression of Type 2 diabetes.

"We have known that people with diabetes are more susceptible to periodontal diseases and have more severe disease," said Dr. Preston D. Miller, Jr., president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "This breakthrough research shows having periodontal disease may aggravate pre-diabetes which is a precursor for diabetes. These findings underscore the importance of taking good care of your teeth and gums: it may be a simple way to prevent diabetes, or to prevent the progression of diabetes."

Signs of pre-diabetes include: elevated blood sugar levels, obesity, inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of diabetes. Also, mothers who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at risk to develop the disease later on in life.

Fortunately, periodontal disease can be reversible—if caught in the early stages. Advanced stages of the disease can lead to bone and tooth loss. Talk to your dentist about your gums and find out what you can do to keep them healthy.

To see if you are at risk of developing diabetes, visit "www.diabetes.org".

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