Posted by Joe Gargiulo on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 @ 04:00 PM
A team from the Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam published a study concluding that severe gum disease may be an early indicator of undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. The researchers said early diagnosis at dental offices and treatment of both periodontitis and diabetes could benefit patients by preventing further complications. “Periodontitis as a possible early sign of diabetes mellitus” was authored by Dr. Wijnand Teeuw, the director of the center’s periodontology clinic. The study was funded in part by a grant from the University of Amsterdam and published February 22, 2017 via BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
"Be aware that worsened oral health — in particular, periodontitis — can be a sign of an underlying [condition], such as diabetes," said Dr. Teeuw.
Diabetes mellitus is a growing health problem said researchers and its pervasiveness is on the rise.
“The prevalence of diabetes was estimated at 285 million adults worldwide in 2010 and this is expected to rise to 552 million by 2030,” stated the study’s Introduction. “However, owing to the absence of symptoms and/or disease-related knowledge, diabetes often goes undetected, and approximately one-third of people with diabetes are not aware of their status. The early diagnosis and intervention of (pre)diabetes prevent the common microvascular and macrovascular complications and are cost-effective. Therefore, risk indicators for (pre)diabetes screening are needed and proposed.”
About The Study
The research team looked at 313 individuals (approximately 50 years of age on average) with known stages of periodontitis:
- 109 had no gum disease (control group).
- 126 had mild-to-moderate gum disease.
- 78 had a severe form of the disease that was affecting the supporting structures of their teeth.
Assessment was conducted by analyzing dry-blood spots (obtained via finger pin-pricks tests) to measure patients’ HbA1c values.
Researchers identified undiagnosed type 2 diabetes in all test groups:
- 8.5% of those with healthy gums (control group)
- 9.9% with mild-to-moderate periodontitis
- 18.1% with severe gum disease
They said the study confirms the assumption that severe gum disease could be an early sign of undiagnosed diabetes, and suggested it would be feasible to screen for undiagnosed diabetes in dental offices, especially for those with the most severe form.
Research Communications Manager Dr. Emily Burns from Diabetes UK looked at the big picture: "If it is possible to identify people at high risk of type 2 diabetes at the dentist, it could help people get early treatment and reduce their risk of complications such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease."
The study concluded that dental offices “could be a good location for screening for (pre)diabetes in patients with periodontitis using a validated glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) dry spot analysis.”
With dental offices already engaged in at least one screening outside of dentistry (oral cancer), there is every reason to believe diabetes screenings will become commonplace as more and more dentists engage in overall patient health.
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