News & Press
John C. Chao, D.D.S., M.A.G.D
Faculty, USC School of Dentistry
KEEPING GUMS HEALTHY CAN HELP PREVENT DIABETES AND LOWER BLOOD SUGAR IN DIABETES
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) recently publicized the importance of periodontal (gum) health for people with diabetes by the issuance of clinical guidelines for management of diabetics who also have gum disease. Diabetes affects approximately 285 million people worldwide, and this number is only expected to increase. The IDF is an organization of 200 national diabetes associations from 160 countries.
The new IDF oral health clinical guideline supports what research has already suggested: that management of periodontal disease—which affects the gums and other supporting tissues around the teeth—can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes and can also help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Studies have suggested there is a two-way relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease. In other words, keeping the gums healthy can prevent gum disease and help lower blood sugar.
The IDF guideline contains clinical recommendations on periodontal care, written in collaboration with the World Dental Federation, that encourages both medical and dental professionals to conduct annual inquiries for symptoms of periodontal disease such as swollen or red gums, or bleeding during tooth brushing; and to educate their patients with diabetes about the implications of the condition on oral health, and especially periodontal health.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) recognized the IDF guidelines as being in agreement of that of the long-standing recommendations of the AAP to the public. The AAP is the organization that represents those dentists who specialize in the treatment of gum disease. “Everyone should maintain healthy teeth and gums to avoid periodontal disease, but people with diabetes should pay extra attention,” said Samuel Low, DDS, MS, Associate Dean and professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, and President of the American Academy of Periodontology. “Periodontal disease triggers the body’s inflammatory response which can affect insulin sensitivity and ultimately lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels. Establishing routine periodontal care is one way to help keep diabetes under control.”
In addition to helping increase awareness about the importance of oral care for people with diabetes, Dr. Low believes the guideline presents more opportunities for medicine and dentistry to work together. “I know that these clinical recommendations will be helpful for those professionals who work with and treat people with diabetes. I also encourage the medical and dental communities to work together to provide the best possible care for our patients.”