Healthy gums can help reduce diabetes symptoms

Having healthy gums could help to manage diabetes, according to a new report.

The research outlines a number of recommendations for dental professionals treating people with diabetes, as well as emphasising the importance of regular dental visits.

The report supports evidence that severe gum disease affects blood glucose levels expressed as “HbA1C” and advised dentists to widen their role and help to screen for diabetes1.

There are more than 3.8 million people in the UK with diabetes and this is projected to rise to 5 million by 20252. NHS spending on diabetes was estimated at nearly £10 billion in 2010/11, which is 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget.  The overall costs of diabetes are set to grow over the next 20 years, when it is projected to account for 17 per cent of the entire NHS budget.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes the recommendations outlined in the report could have a major impact on the health of the UK.

Dr Carter said: “This research is significant because it will help dentists to inform their patients with diabetes how they can take simple steps to control their condition. It sends a clear message that oral health should not be overlooked or considered less important when compared to other conditions.

“Like diabetes, gum disease is a chronic condition and requires lifelong maintenance. The good news is that poor oral health is nearly always preventable and it is important that people make caring for their teeth and gums a top priority. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Regular visits to the dentist, as this report recommends, and a simple routine of brushing teeth, twice a day for two minutes, will help to remove plaque – the cause of gum disease. It is also important to clean in between teeth using interdental brushes or floss.”

Pav Kalsi, Diabetes UK Clinical Advisor, said: “People with diabetes are at increased risk of gum disease. If you have been told by your dentist that you have gum disease, you should follow up with necessary treatment as advised. Without treatment, gum disease can get progressively worse, which may also affect your diabetes control.”

Professor Iain Chapple from the School of Dentistry at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the report added: “If you do not follow the advice given, it may increase the general health complications of diabetes.”

The report was published jointly by the European Federation of Periodontology and the American Academy of Periodontology


1. Iain L. C. Chapple and Robert Genco; Diabetes and periodontal diseases: consensus report of the Joint EFP/AAP Workshop on Periodontitis and Systemic Diseases; Journal of Periodontology 2013 84:4-s, S106-S112

2. Diabetes UK (March 2013) Diabetes prevalence 2012

3. The British Dental Health Foundation is an independent charity that along with its global arm, the International Dental Health Foundation, is dedicated to improving the oral health of the public by providing free and impartial dental advice, by running educational campaigns like National Smile Month and by informing and influencing the public, profession and government on issues such as mouth cancer awareness and water fluoridation.

Please visit the Foundation’s Twitter accounts: smilemonth, dentalhealthorg, mouthcancerorg and add our Facebook fan-page: ‘British Dental Health Foundation’. For information and free expert advice on oral health issues call the National Dental Helpline on 0845 063 1188, or alternatively visit

4. The workshop outputs can be found at

5. The Foundation promotes three key messages for good oral health:

– Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste
– Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
– Visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend