By Dr. Michael Herndon, DDS, AF

Since the Holidays are almost upon us and during that happy time we tend to consume lots of sweets (Sugar cookies and milk come to mind… Mmmm!), it is a good time to bring new research forward regarding the links between periodontal disease (gum disease) and diabetes.

Recently there was a group of international specialists organized by the European Federation of Periodontology and the International Diabetes Federation that gathered to arrive at a consensus on this subject in order to develop guidelines of education for dentists, physicians, and patients. We have long known that there is a connection between these two conditions but now we have a gathering of international experts that have officially recognized the significant connection between Diabetes and Periodontal disease.

The evidence that the specialists examined suggests that patients with periodontal disease have a higher chance of developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes and that people with periodontitis and diabetes have more difficulty in keeping their blood-sugar levels under control. They also concluded that patients with both diseases are more likely to develop diabetes complications than people with diabetes without periodontitis.

Current evidence indicates that in people with diabetes, professional periodontal therapy accompanied by effective oral hygiene at home is both safe and effective even in people with poorly controlled diabetes. There is consistent evidence that periodontal therapy reduces blood-sugar levels in people with diabetes and periodontal disease. However, evidence is also present that if a diabetic patient’s periodontal condition is not controlled, there is a greater risk of negative impact on metabolic control and may also increase the risk of complications including cardiovascular and kidney disease.

So to put this in perspective, it is important to have healthy gums for all the reasons we already know, such as a good smile, no bleeding when brushing or flossing, good breath, and more fun eating (back to the holidays again!), it is also so very important for patients with diabetes and for patients that may be borderline.

Keep your gums healthy for a healthy life!