Controlled diabetics have new reason to smile

November 21, 1999

CHICAGO -- Diabetes has long been known to increase the risk of severe periodontal disease. A study released today in the November issue of the Journal of Periodontology found that poorly controlled type 2 diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than well-controlled diabetics are. In addition, the study further explains why diabetics are more susceptible to severe periodontal disease.

The study concluded that poorly controlled diabetics respond differently to bacterial plaque at the gum line than well-controlled diabetics and non-diabetics, possibly due to elevated serum triglycerides. Poorly controlled diabetics have more harmful proteins (cytokines) in their gingival tissue, causing destructive inflammation of the gums. In turn, beneficial proteins (growth factors) are reduced, interfering with the healing response to infection.

"Increased serum triglyceride levels in uncontrolled diabetics seem to be related to greater attachment loss and probing depths, which are measures of periodontal disease," said Christopher Cutler, D.D.S., Ph.D., the study¹s lead researcher. "Diabetic patients should certainly be aware of their blood sugar levels, but it¹s also important they have their serum triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked by their physician on a regular basis. Reducing cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels, preferably through diet and exercise, may be the most important changes that diabetics can make to improve their quality of life, as well as their oral health."

The American Academy of Periodontology is encouraging diabetics to get a periodontal evaluation during National Diabetes Month in November, as recent research also has found that having periodontal disease makes diabetes more difficult to control. "We have a classic vicious cycle going on," said Cutler. "Controlling your periodontal disease may help you control your diabetes," added Jack Caton, D.D.S., M.S., President of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). "Therefore, diabetic patients should be sure both their medical and dental care provider are aware of their medical history and periodontal status."

A referral to a periodontist or a free brochure titled Diabetes & Gum Disease is available by calling 1-800-FLOSS-EM, or visit the AAP¹s Web site at .
The AAP is a 7,000-member organization of dentists specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tissues surrounding the teeth and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontics is recognized as a dental specialty by the American Dental Association.

EDITOR¹S NOTE: A copy of the study, Heightened Gingival Inflammation and Attachment Loss in Type 2 Diabetics with Hyperlipidemia, is available by calling 312/573-3243.

American Academy of Periodontology

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