Periodontitis is a chronic disease that requires life-long care and professional treatment. It causes recession of the gum and/or bone surrounding affected teeth. These changes are not able to be reversed. A dentist or gum specialist, known as a periodontist, can check for signs of periodontal disease and provide treatment. Signs of periodontal disease can include bleeding from the gums, bad breath, sensitive teeth, loose teeth, recession of the gums or longer-looking teeth, and gaps developing between the teeth which may lead to food becoming stuck. Severe untreated periodontal disease can result in teeth becoming loose, painful and eventually being lost from the mouth.
The risk of developing periodontitis is greater in people with diabetes, particularly when blood glucose levels are not within the recommended range of 4-7 mmol/L. However, with optimum blood glucose management the risk of developing periodontitis is the same as for a person without diabetes.
There is increasing evidence of a two-way relationship between periodontitis and diabetes. Periodontitis may negatively affect blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that people with periodontitis exhibit a higher chance of developing prediabetes and diabetes. People with periodontitis have poorer glycaemic status (higher level of HbA1C), compared to people without periodontitis.
Professional periodontal treatment has been shown to create a mild improvement in blood glucose levels. However, these results lasted for only a short three-month period of time (longer term studies are ongoing).
These relationships can differ for people with type 1 diabetes compared to type 2. It is important that people continue to remain in control of their oral health and their diabetes management over time.