Do Mouth Infections Affect the Development of Diabetes?

Periodontal disease, or infection of the gums and the bones underlying the teeth, is known to be associated with diabetes. Researchers at Columbia University in New York, United States, set out to discover whether periodontal disease could contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes. To do this, they looked at people with periodontal infection who did not have Type 2 diabetes, and then tested to determine whether they were on the road to developing the condition.

This particular study, published in the journal Diabetes Care in July 2012 included 3,616 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the years 1999 to 2004.

It was found:

  • the participants who had periodontal infection also had higher rates of insulin resistance than those without mouth infection, and
  • those with the highest or worst degree of periodontal disease were likeliest to have insulin resistance.


From this it was concluded having periodontal disease was associated with insulin resistance. Since insulin resistance is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, it is possible having an infection of the gums and/or bones underlying your teeth, could line up people up for the future development of Type 2 diabetes.

Mayo Clinic lists signs and symptoms of periodontal disease as:


  • swollen gums,
  • teeth appearing longer than normal because the gums are pulled away from them,
  • red, purplish, bleeding, or tender gums,
  • spaces developing between the teeth,
  • bad taste in your mouth,
  • lose teeth, and
  • changes in the way the teeth fit together when your mouth is closed

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