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Diabetes May Forebode Periodontal Disease in Men
October 24, 2012

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Men with type 2 diabetes are more likely to be later diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease, says a large study.

The study included more than 35,000 men. They were all part of a larger group called the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. It started in 1986. The men were between 40 and 75.

Men in this study had to have at least some of their natural teeth. They also had to be free of periodontal disease when the study began.

Every two years, the men answered questions about their health. Every four years, they answered detailed questions about what they ate.

Between 1986 and 2006, about 3,000 men were diagnosed with periodontal disease. Men who already had type 2 diabetes were 29% more likely to be diagnosed with periodontal disease than men who did not have type 2 diabetes.

The researchers took into account many other factors that can affect health:

  • Age
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Smoking
  • Fruit and vegetable intake
  • Physical activity
  • Alcohol intake
  • Number of teeth at the start of the study
  • History of stroke or heart attack

For example, some men ate fewer fruits and vegetables than average. If these men also had type 2 diabetes, they were 49% more likely to be diagnosed with periodontal disease than men who did not have type 2 diabetes.

There was a small risk of tooth loss among men with type 2 diabetes. They were about 10% more likely to lose at least one tooth than men who did not have diabetes.

The authors say that few other studies have looked at whether diabetes increases the risk of later periodontal disease. Some studies have suggested that diabetics with poor blood sugar control may be at higher risk for periodontal disease. But this study did not collect information on blood-sugar levels.

Diabetes affects about 11% of the U.S. population.

The study appears in the October issue of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

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