Eastman Dental Institute


Treating gum disease could ease the symptoms of diabetes - researchers recommend standard screening

24 October 2018

Gun disease and diabetes

New research suggests that intensively treating gum disease can help some people with Type 2 diabetes by lowering their blood glucose level and reducing chronic inflammation - both of which can lead to cardiovascular and kidney problems.

Over 250 patients with poorly-controlled diabetes and active periodontitis took part in our trial funded by Diabetes UK and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

After 12 months, those who has received the more intensive gum therapy had reduced their blood glucose level by on average 0.6 per cent 

They also showed reduced chronic inflammation - which could lower their risk of serious diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Lead researcher and Professor of Periodontology, Francesco D’Aiuto, said: “Gum disease is closely linked to diabetes and it is well known that it can lead to a higher blood glucose level as well as chronic inflammation around the body, which both could promote the development of kidney and vessel damage if sustained for long periods of time.

“This is the first long-term, randomised study to show a substantial benefit of treating gum disease on diabetes control.

“Lowering blood glucose level by 0.6% is the equivalent of prescribing a patient an additional, second blood sugar lowering drug

“We were delighted with the improvement in health and quality of life of those in the test group compared with those in the control group whose teeth were only given a scale and polish.”

The researchers are closely working with NHS authorities to increase awareness of the link between gum disease and diabetes amongst diabetes professionals, suggesting the inclusion of dental and gum assessments for people with diabetes as standard practice. 

Chief Dental Officer, England,  Sara Hurley said: “This new research helpfully builds on what we already know about the importance of patients with diabetes receiving vital gum assessments and it allows us to work closer with the wider NHS to improve the overall health and quality of everyday life for these patients.”  

The team now plan a larger study at the national level to test the possible benefit of treating gum disease in patients who are at risk of heart-attacks or strokes.

Read the full paper