Recent research has looked at the link between oral health conditions and physical health conditions. Interestingly, the study found mixed results. There is a strong connection between chronic Gum Disease and Diabetes. But some conditions don’t seem to be affected by oral health conditions. This research adds to the growing body of evidence that demonstrates how oral and physical health are strongly connected.
A recent research study has looked into the impact and risk factors that chronic oral health conditions like Gum Disease have on physical health conditions, such as Diabetes, Arthritis, mental health conditions and other areas.
While oral health in itself is very important for us all to look after, it becomes even more important when we become aware of its link to physical health.
An existing link between physical health and oral health is already known. However, many people are unaware of this.
The research looked at Gum Disease – which is one of the most common oral health conditions. The most advanced case of gum disease is referred to as Periodontitis, which affects 10% to 15% of adults around the world .
There are a huge range of physical health conditions that exist. This study considered many different conditions, namely Diabetes, Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Chron’s Disease, metabolic conditions, Psychosis and other mental health conditions.
The research was published in the Frontiers in Oral Health journal . The research was completed by a team of researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland .
We mentioned earlier about the link between physical and oral health. However, there are a lack of studies that involve follow-up statistics, which is something that this study aimed to correct.
The study involved following up on 68,273 patients aged 29 or over that had made at least one dental visit to Helsinki City Health Services between 2001 and 2002 .
The idea was to see how the oral health of this cohort was in 2001 and 2002, and then see how their oral and physical health was ten years later. The researchers were able to use public records of data on death, cancer and drug reimbursement to strengthen the validity of their results.
The researchers were particularly interested in seeing how those who showed signs of Periodontitis in 2001 or 2002 were faring with their oral and physical health. As mentioned earlier, a range of physical health conditions were considered.
The results showed that Periodontitis was associated with both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and common metabolic conditions like Metabolic Syndrome .
These associations weren’t surprising to the researchers, especially given that gum disease is often linked to consumption of sugary foods – something commonly seen as a contributing factor to some forms of Diabetes.
However, associations with conditions like Arthritis, Chron’s Disease, Psychosis and other mental health conditions, were not observed . While there were some cases which showed a connection, most didn’t.
What this means
The study was able to provide evidence that a two-way relationship exists between Diabetes and Periodontitis . Diabetes can accelerate progression of Periodontitis, which appears to be a mutual effect.
Equally though, if these conditions are treated early and effectively, they can improve the treatment outcomes of the corresponding condition, as explained by Professor Timo Sorsa – an author of the study.
Sorsa commented that “based on our findings, successful treatment of periodontitis has a positive effect on the treatment outcomes for diabetes and reduces the cost of care. Similarly, the successful treatment of diabetes slows down the progression of periodontitis” .
The authors were also keen to point out the extensive nature of their research, saying that their study “encompassed some 70,000 study subjects, which increases the reliability and weight of the study” .
In terms of future research directions, the researchers hope to look at other physical health conditions. and see if a relationship exists between them and oral health .
The research affirms the importance of both physical and oral health. Therefore, to achieve the most effective treatment outcomes, it is important to consider oral and physical health together.
1) This article talks about Gum Disease, which is very common. But one of the most common issues with gum disease is that many people are unaware they have it. A routine dental examination can result in a diagnosis, and practical advice can be provided. Treatment is available, and includes root planing and scaling. Consider discussing this with your dentist at your next appointment if you are concerned.
2) There is a clear link between physical and oral health. Therefore, to protect yourself, make sure you have excellent oral hygiene, which includes regularly attending dental check-ups. A dentist will be able to provide information and advice on your oral health, and suggest treatment if necessary. As this study has showed, effective treatment can benefit your physical health. Consider booking an appointment soon!
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a range of treatment options and advice aimed at improving oral health.
It is crucial to brush your teeth at least twice a day and to floss regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is important.
We advise our patients to attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, tooth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
In addition, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide.
 Borgnakke, W. S., Ylostalo, P. V., Taylor, G. W., & Genco, R. J. (2013). Effect of periodontal disease on diabetes: systematic review of epidemiologic observational evidence. Journal of Periodontology. 84 (45): pS135-S152. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1902/jop.2013.1340013.
 Heikkila, P., Niskanen, L., But, A., Sorsa, T., & Haukka, J. (2022). Oral health associated with incident diabetes but not other chronic diseases: A register-based cohort study. Frontiers in Oral Health. 3 (956072). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/froh.2022.956072.
 University of Helsinki. (2022). Diabetes and oral diseases affect each other and hinder treatment. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-09-diabetes-oral-diseases-affect-hinder.html. Last accessed: 23rd September 2022.