Routine Oral Health Treatments—A Way to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

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by Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD

According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, there are 30.3 million people in the United States with diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both types are chronic diseases that affect the way your body regulates blood sugar, or glucose. Glucose is the fuel that feeds your body’s cells, but to enter your cells it needs a key, which is insulin.

People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin. You can think of it as not having a key. People with Type 2 diabetes don’t respond to insulin as well as they should and later in the disease often don’t make enough insulin. You can think of this as having a bro- ken key.

Among all people living with diabetes, 90 to 95 percent have Type 2 diabetes. Epidemiological data confirm that diabetes is a major risk factor for periodontitis; people with diabetes are approximately three times more susceptible to periodontitis.

There is a clear relationship between the degree of hyperglycemia (excess glucose) and the severity of periodontitis. The mechanisms that underpin the links between these two conditions are not completely understood; however, there is emerging evidence to support the existence of a two-way relationship between diabetes and periodontitis, with diabetes increasing the risk for periodontitis and periodontal inflammation negatively affecting glycemic control.

In a recent study published by The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, the study assessed the effects of periodontal treatment on glycemic control in people with Type 2 diabetes. In this study, 264 patients with Type 2 diabetes, presenting with moderate-to-severe periodontitis and at least 15 teeth, were randomized to intense periodontal treatment or control periodontal treatment to assess the effects of periodontal treatment on glycemic control. After 12 months, the average HbA1c was 8.3 percent in the control group and 7.8 percent in the in- tense treatment group, which was significantly lower after adjustment for baseline characteristics. These findings suggest that routine oral health treatment is an important component for managing Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and reversed with a healthy lifestyle consisting of a good diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Poor diet contributes to chronic inflammation.

Monitoring your blood sugar is an essential part of diabetes management because it’s the only way to know if you’re meeting your target levels. With careful monitor- ing, you can get your blood sugar levels back to normal and prevent the development of serious complications. People with Type 2 diabetes need to focus on healthy eat- ing. Weight loss is often a part of Type 2 diabetes treatment plans, so your doctor may recommend a low-calorie meal plan; this could mean reducing your consumption of animal fats and junk food (especially sugar). And, of course, routine oral health treatments will assist your path to healing.

Source: Jonathan Richter, DDS, FAGD, of Cariodontal (310 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 101, Great Neck). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 516-282-0310 or visit

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