By: Carol Ratko
In my many years of dental hygiene practice, rarely have I seen news articles concerning dental health. Most often those instances have occurred when state legislatures have debated the benefits of water fluoridation, however, the most common cause of tooth loss in the industrialized world, periodontal disease, is often ignored.

On Sunday, September 3, 2017 an article in the Health Section of the Philadelphia Inquirer caught my eye. As many of us are aware, periodontal infections tend to be more severe in diabetic patients with uncontrolled levels of blood sugar. Dr. Dana Graves, a professor of periodontics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine is conducting a research study to identify the causes of this problem. Early findings reveal a change in oral bacteria occurs in the presence of uncontrolled diabetes causing an increase in gingival inflammation.

The study is far from complete but it is does open a new window for treating periodontal infection. I now ask my patients with several areas of gingival bleeding if they have seen their physician in the past year and has s/he checked their blood sugar levels. Many times they say the physician indicated a pre-diabetic condition. I then advise them to try to control blood sugar levels through diet. (I even have them searching the internet for anti- inflammatory and diabetic diets.) I realize they may not make extreme dietary changes but any change can certainly help.

Please take a look at this article. The findings are certainly exciting news. And in discussing it with your patients you may give them an incentive to make some healthy lifestyle changes and improve their periodontal health.