Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Typical Gum Disease Treatments Won't Ease Diabetes

Despite ties between the two illnesses, gum therapies didn't help with blood-sugar control

WebMD News from HealthDay

But people at risk of gum disease need more

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Typical, nonsurgical treatment of gum disease in people with type 2 diabetes will not improve their blood-sugar control, a new study suggests.

There's long been a connection between gum disease and wider health issues, and experts say a prior study had offered some evidence that treatment of gum disease might enhance blood-sugar control in patients with diabetes.

Nearly half of Americans over age 30 are believed to have gum disease, and people with diabetes are at greater risk for the problem, the researchers said. Well-controlled diabetes is associated with less severe gum disease and a lower risk for progression of gum disease, according to background information in the study.

But would an easing of gum disease help control patients' diabetes? To find out, the researchers, led by Steven Engebretson of New York University, tracked outcomes for more than 500 diabetes patients with gum disease who were divided into two groups.

One group's gum disease was treated using scaling, root planing and an oral rinse, followed by further gum disease treatment after three and six months. The other group received no treatment for their gum disease.

Scaling and root planing involves scraping away the tartar from above and below the gum line, and smoothing out rough spots on the tooth's root, where germs can collect, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

After six months, people in the treatment group showed improvement in their gum disease. There was no difference, however, in blood-sugar control between the two groups, according to the findings, which were published in the Dec. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

These findings do not support the use of nonsurgical gum disease treatment to improve blood-sugar control in people with diabetes, the researchers said.

Experts said the finding was in line with what is known on the subject.

"The results don't surprise me," said Dr. Gerald Bernstein, director of the Diabetes Education Program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "[Gum disease] requires physical intervention to remove offending plaques and microinfection that does not easily clear with brushing and rinsing."

What is really important is how inflammation linked to gum disease is related to wider cardiac inflammation, Bernstein said. That relationship might influence the rate at which artery-hardening plaques are deposited in blood vessels.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said it's well known that gum disease is "associated with worsening of [blood-sugar] control in diabetics."

But the current study suggests that "[gum] treatment improves the common disease and preserves teeth but should not be used to control diabetes," he said.

"Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings," Mezitis added.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections