A couple of years ago I wrote about the two-way relationship between Diabetes and Periodontal disease in Teeth, Gums, Diabetes and Death .
My main intent at that time was to emphasise that dental hygiene and blood glucose levels seem to be closely related. Poor dental hygiene causes poor blood glucose levels and poor blood glucose levels exacerbate dental problems. The reverse is also true, with improvements in either leading to improvements in the other. For more discussion on that read the earlier article.
One of the cites I provided, Periodontitis and diabetes interrelationships, had an interesting comment: "Thus, there is potential for periodontitis to exacerbate diabetes-induced hyperlipidemia, immune cell alterations, and diminished tissue repair capacity. It may also be possible for chronic periodontitis to induce diabetes." Induce diabetes? I noted that further research should be done there.
Further research has now been done and that possibility is becoming a little more plausible. This paper was published online on April 4, 2008 in Diabetes Care 31:1373-1379, 2008: Periodontal Disease and Incident Type 2 Diabetes
OBJECTIVE—Type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease are known to be associated, but the temporality of this relationship has not been firmly established. We investigated whether baseline periodontal disease independently predicts incident diabetes over two decades of follow-up.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—A total of 9,296 nondiabetic male and female National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) participants aged 25–74 years who completed a baseline dental examination (1971–1976) and had at least one follow-up evaluation (1982–1992) were studied. We defined six categories of baseline periodontal disease using the periodontal index. Of 7,168 dentate participants, 47% had periodontal index = 0 (periodontally healthy); the remaining were classified into periodontal index quintiles. Incident diabetes was defined by 1) death certificate (ICD-9 code 250), 2) self-report of diabetes requiring pharmacological treatment, or 3) health care facility stay with diabetes discharge code. Multivariable logistic regression models assessed incident diabetes odds across increasing levels of periodontal index in comparison with periodontally healthy participants.
RESULTS—The adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for incident diabetes in periodontal index categories 1 and 2 were not elevated, whereas the ORs in periodontal index categories 3 through 5 were 2.26 (95% CI 1.56–3.27), 1.71 (1.0–2.69), and 1.50 (0.99–2.27), respectively. The OR in edentulous participants was 1.30 (1.00–1.70). Dentate participants with advanced tooth loss had an OR of 1.70 (P <>
CONCLUSIONS—Baseline periodontal disease is an independent predictor of incident diabetes in the nationally representative sample of NHANES I."
What that means in layman’s terms was clarified in Endocrine Today online in November when an interview with one of the authors, Ryan T. Demmer, PhD, MPH was published. He said that these findings add a "new twist" to the association, suggesting that periodontal disease may lead to diabetes.
"It has been generally accepted that periodontal disease is a consequence of diabetes despite the fact that this association has not been studied with the same methodological rigor applied to coronary and stroke outcomes," he told Endocrine Today. "We found that over two decades of follow-up, individuals who had periodontal disease were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life when compared to individuals without periodontal disease." For more details read that Endocrine Today issue where it is discussed with several other researchers in this field.
I still suspect that type 2 has a genetic cause, but I now believe that periodontal disease can be a trigger for type 2 diabetes in the same way that a poor diet or lifestyle can be. There is also the possibility the genetic tendency to type 2 diabetes may also be the initial cause of the precursor conditions of periodontal disease or obesity.
I already knew that it was important to have very good dental hygiene as a type 2 diabetic. Now it seems that it may be equally important for those of us who have offspring following in our genetic foot-steps to pass that message on loud and clear to them.