Gum Disease is an Indicator of Prediabetes

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
Periodontitis may be an early sign of diabetes, serving as a valuable risk indicator of the disease, according to a study published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
The authors suggest that a dental office could be a viable location to screen for diabetes using a simple test.
Included in the study were 313 participants from the University of Amsterdam dental clinic, of whom 126 patients had mild to moderate periodontitis; 78 had severe periodontitis, and 109 did not have periodontitis.
Participants with periodontitis had a higher body mass index (BMI), with an average BMI of 27, compared with the rest of the patients. However, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were found to be similar across all 3 groups, according to the study.
The investigators analyzed higher glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) values of dry blood spots, to evaluate the differences in mean HbA1c values and the prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes between the 2 groups.
The results of the study showed that mild-to-moderate and severe periodontitis groups showed significantly higher HbA1c values compared with the control group. Furthermore, there was a significant overrepresentation of subjects with suspected diabetes and prediabetes in severe periodontitis group and mild-to-moderate periodontitis groups compared with the control group.
Interestingly, 18.1% of patients with suspected new diabetes were found among subjects with severe periodontitis compared with 9.9% of mild to moderate subjects and 8.5% of controls.
“The dental office, with particular focus on patients with severe periodontitis, proved to be a suitable location for screening for (pre)diabetes; a considerable number of suspected new diabetes cases were identified,” the authors wrote. “The early diagnosis and treatment of (pre)diabetes help to prevent more severe complications and benefit the treatment of periodontitis.”
The CDC estimates approximately 37% of individuals 20 years or older in the United States have prediabetes.

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