This review evaluates evidence for a bidirectional relationship between diabetes and periodontal diseases. A comprehensive Medline search of the post-1960 English language literature was employed to identify primary research reports of relationships between diabetes and periodontal diseases. Reports included in the review on the adverse effects of diabetes on periodontal health (DM-->PD) were restricted to those comparing periodontal health in subjects with and without diabetes. Review of adverse affects of periodontal infection on glycemic control included reports of periodontal treatment studies and follow-up observational studies in which changes in glycemic control could be assessed. Observational studies reporting DM-->PD provided consistent evidence of greater prevalence, severity, extent, or progression of at least one manifestation of periodontal diseases in the large majority of reports (supportive evidence in 44/48 total reviewed; 37/41 cross-sectional and 7/7 cohort). Additionally, there were no studies reviewed with superior design features to refute this association. Treatment studies provided direct evidence to support periodontal infection having an adverse, yet modifiable, effect on glycemic control. However, not all investigations reported an improvement in glycemic control after periodontal treatment. Additional evidence to support the effect of severe periodontitis on increased risk for poorer glycemic control comes from 2 follow-up observational studies. The evidence reviewed supports viewing the relationship between diabetes and periodontal diseases as bidirectional. Further rigorous, systematic study is warranted to establish that treating periodontal infections can be influential in contributing to glycemic control management and possibly to the reduction of the burden of complications of diabetes mellitus.