If You Have Gum Disease, Read This

Written by Helen Whelan

Many periodontal patients don't know they have diabetes or high cholesterol.
If You Have Gum Disease, Read This
by Paul Wolf

A sizeable number of patients with gum disease don't know they also have serious conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

The study tracked 39 patients with gum disease. Although none of the periodontal patients reported having diabetes, 15% tested positive for diabetes in lab tests subsequent to their periodontal treatment.

On cholesterol screenings, although only 5% of the participants reported they had high cholesterol, 56% subsequently tested positive for high cholesterol.

Gum disease often is linked to diabetes and heart disease, but researchers noted that few periodontal patients are aware of the associations. Diabetics are more likely to develop infections, including in the mouth. And periodontal patients have been shown to be almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.

"From a dental practitioner's standpoint, these findings mean that we may not always be made aware of what we're up against," said Dr. Kelly Thompson, the study's lead researcher.

Dr. Jack Caton, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, said the findings should prompt better collaboration between dentistry and medicine.

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