Diabetes mellitus and periodontal disease: education, collaboration and information sharing between doctors, dentists and patients


  • Christopher Turner Retired Specialist in Restorative Dentistry
  • Pierre-Marc Bouloux Department of Endocrinology Royal Free Hospital, London




diabetes, periodontitis, risk identification, education


People living with diabetes (DM) are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease than those without diabetes. This observation was first recorded in 1928. It is now believed that the risk is 3-4 times greater than for people without DM, and more for smokers. However, many doctors are not aware of this.

DM and periodontal disease are bi-directionally linked, the one affecting the other and vice versa, although the mechanism is not fully understood. Periodontal disease has an adverse effect on glycaemic control. That improves when periodontitis is successfully treated.

Doctors should consider periodontal disease when their patients have persistently high glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, and dentists should consider diabetes or pre-diabetes when they have patients with unstable periodontitis.

Doctors and dentists, and their teams, need to share results. This paper considers what that shared information should be. A system of red, amber and green for both medical and dental risks is proposed. Until there are reliable methods of information exchanges and a paradigm shift in inter-professional working, patients should obtain their medical and dental results and share them with their respective advisors.

Those patients who do not attend for dental care should be advised by their doctor about the potential benefits of dental screening for periodontitis.


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