The treatment of periodontal disease in patients with type 2 diabetes may lower their blood sugar levels, according to a new study (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010, Issue 5).
The study was led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and supported by colleagues at the Peninsula Dental School, the University of Ottawa, and the Eastman Dental Institute.
The research team analyzed randomized controlled trials of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who had also been diagnosed with periodontal disease. The team looked at 690 papers and included seven studies in the review.
Their findings suggest that the treatment of periodontal disease can reduce blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, although not enough evidence was available to support the same benefit for those with type 1 diabetes.
When bacteria infect the mouth and cause inflammation, the resulting chemical changes reduce the effectiveness of insulin produced in the body, thus making it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar, according to the researchers.
The findings are key because many patients and healthcare professionals do not necessarily make the association between the treatment of gum disease and the control of blood sugar levels, they added.
"It would be wise to advise patients of the relationship between treating periodontal disease and the possibility of lowering their blood sugar levels," said Terry Simpson, lead author, honorary research fellow at the University of Edinburgh's Dental Institute. "Additionally, an oral health assessment should be recommended as part of their routine diabetes management."
Larger randomized trials are required to further study dental treatment and its long-term outcomes for those with diabetes, including the possibility of marrying dental care for diabetics with wider diabetes support and treatment networks and closer collaboration between doctors and dentists, added David Moles, a professor of oral health research at the Peninsula Dental School.
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