Diabetes and oral diseases affect each other and hinder treatment

Incidence of diabetes and indicators about oral health. Kaplan–Meier curves with 95% confidence intervals. Number of teeth (A), Periodontitis (B), Caries (C), Endo/caries(D). Credit: Frontiers in Oral Healthcare (2022). DOI: 10.3389/froh.2022.956072

Research has shown that oral health problems and chronic diseases can have a negative and long-lasting reciprocal effect on each others. For the best treatment outcomes, it is important to consider both the oral and general health of patients.

A 10-year follow-up at the University of Helsinki was used to determine the predictive value of oral health in predicting the onset of various chronic conditions. One of the key findings was that diabetes is linked to periodontitis, a disease of the connective tissues of teeth.

“We know that periodontitis is connected to many chronic illnesses from previous studies. Thanks to our exceptionally long-term dataset, we were able to analyze causalities and bidirectional effects between these factors,” says University Lecturer Pia Heikkilä.

She adds that “the research dataset was unusually large, encompassing some 70 000 study subjects, which increases reliability and weight of study.”

The study revealed that periodontitis (a common disease of public importance in Finland) and apical periodontitis (inflammation of the apex the tooth root), are associated with common metabolic disorders such as metabolic syndrome and type 1 and 2, diabetes, and gestational diabetics, which require treatment.

The study did not show any similar associations with other common chronic diseases such as connective tissue disorders, rheumatoidarthritis, inflammatory intestinal disease, or serious mental illnesses.

The results were published in the journal scholarly Frontiers in Oral Healthcare journal.

The findings indicate that there is a two-way relationship between diabetes and other metabolic disorders and periodontitis. Diabetes can accelerate the progression of periodontitis, complicate its diagnosis and treatment, especially when it is not properly controlled or diagnosed.

Incipient and latent periodontitis are both signs of diabetes. They can also hinder its diagnosis, control, or maintenance therapy.

The mutual effect of these diseases results in increased costs. This is significant for both public health and the economy.

“Based on our findings we found that successful treatment of periodontitis has a positive impact on diabetes treatment outcomes and lowers the cost of care. Professor Timo Sorsa also notes that successful treatment of diabetes slows down periodontitis progression and reduces medical costs.

According to the researchers, more bidirectional effects between diseases may be discovered in the future.

Sorsa says, “The general and dental health of patients should all be considered in healthcare. Our research has shown that even latent illnesses can have a harmful and prolonged effect on one another.”

“Hopefully, the training professionals in the field and the system of health care services in line with the Finnish health and social service reform will enable the collaboration necessary for this,” he said. He concludes that it is in the best interests of taxpayers and patients.

New study reveals a link between cerebrovascular and periodontal diseases

More information:
Pia Heikkilä et al, Oral health associated with incident diabetes but not other chronic diseases: A register-based cohort study, Frontiers in Oral Healthcare (2022). DOI: 10.3389/froh.2022.956072

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University of Helsinki

Oral and diabetes affect each other and can hinder treatment (2022, 21 September)
Retrieved 21 September 2022
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