Gum disease research explores diabetes link

MORE than 130 Indigenous Australians in the Top End are taking part in one of the first randomised controlled trials to look at how treating moderate to severe gum disease will impact on specific markers of chronic disease, and recruitment is continuing.

Evidence that poor oral health coincides with chronic disease is accumulating – but the disconnect between dental and medical care for patients with diabetes has persisted, particularly among those in lower socioeconomic brackets, who are already at increased risk.

Last year a team from the Menzies School of Health Research began recruiting Indigenous Australians for the NHMRC-funded study that is initially providing treatment for periodontal disease for half the group, with the control group being offered the same treatment 12 months later. Researchers are measuring tangible markers of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including arterial stiffness, carotid artery ultrasound and HbA1c levels.