We’ve talked before about how diabetes can make gum disease worse, and how gum disease can make it harder for you to control your blood sugar levels. What we haven’t really seen before is good evidence that treating gum disease can help you bring your blood sugar levels under control.
But now we do. A review of studies shows that treating gum disease can break the diabetes cycle, significantly improving blood sugar control.
What Gum Disease Treatment Means in This Case
In this study, researchers were looking at the impact of root scaling and planing on blood sugar control.
In gum disease, bacteria infect the space between your gums and your teeth. Scaling and planing is a procedure designed to remove the bacteria from this space and facilitate healing.
The bacteria in this space is removed. Sometimes antibiotics are applied to help ensure the complete removal of bacteria.
Then the tooth roots, which are often damaged by the presence of bacteria, are smoothed to make it harder for bacteria to shelter against the teeth. Finally, the gum tissue is pressed against the tooth roots so it can heal back in place.
A Systematic Review
Researchers wanted to analyze the state of knowledge on this connection so they searched for randomized controlled trials looking at the effect of gum disease treatment on blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and gum disease. Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard of evidence in medical research because they compare treatment directly with other types of treatments, placebo, or no treatment. These trials had to be at least three months long.
For this treatment, they ended up identifying seven studies that met their selection criteria. The trials involved 940 patients total.The studies showed that treatment of gum disease reduced blood sugar levels by about half at three months, and that longer studies had about the same result at the end of the study.
Because of this significant effect, the authors of the study said that gum disease treatment like this could be a reasonable intervention to help people with gum disease get better control of their blood sugar levels.
Many Benefits to Gum Disease Treatment
Diabetes is just one of many systemic illnesses that are linked to gum disease, and can be improved with gum disease treatment. For example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be triggered and worsened by gum disease, and treating gum disease can help reduce RA flareups. Gum disease treatment can improve prostate health. And then there’s the impact on heart health.
Overall, studies have shown that gum disease treatment can save thousands of dollars in medical costs because of its links to major health conditions.