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Report says dental disease may foreshadow diabetes

MINNEAPOLIS -- People with severe periodontal disease may be at increased risk for developing diabetes, while those with gum disease who are already diabetic have a harder time controlling blood sugar levels, researchers said.

Dentists outlined the link between periodontal disease, when infections and inflammation weaken the tissue around the teeth, and diabetes, one of the most common chronic conditions in adults, at the annual American Diabetes Association meeting Friday in San Francisco. Dental disease is one of the early warning signs of diabetes and its complications, they said.

People with periodontal disease are twice as likely to have insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, as those without it, said George Taylor, associate professor of dentistry at the University of Michigan. Aggressively fighting the gum disease reduces blood sugar levels, which if untreated put patients at greater risk for kidney disease and death, he said.

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