Background: The purpose of this review is to provide the reader with practical knowledge concerning the relationship between diabetes mellitus and periodontal diseases. Over 200 articles have been published in the English literature over the past 50 years examining the relationship between these two chronic diseases. Data interpretation is often confounded by varying definitions of diabetes and periodontitis and different clinical criteria applied to prevalence, extent, and severity of periodontal diseases, levels of glycemic control, and complications associated with diabetes.
Methods: This article provides a broad overview of the predominant findings from research published in English over the past 20 years, with reference to certain "classic" articles published prior to that time.
Results: This article describes current diagnostic and classification criteria for diabetes and answers the following questions: 1) Does diabetes affect the risk of periodontitis, and does the level of metabolic control of diabetes have an impact on this relationship? 2) Do periodontal diseases affect the pathophysiology of diabetes mellitus or the metabolic control of diabetes? 3) What are the mechanisms by which these two diseases interrelate? and 4) How do people with diabetes and periodontal disease respond to periodontal treatment?
Conclusions: Diabetes increases the risk of periodontal diseases, and biologically plausible mechanisms have been demonstrated in abundance. Less clear is the impact of periodontal diseases on glycemic control of diabetes and the mechanisms through which this occurs. Inflammatory periodontal diseases may increase insulin resistance in a way similar to obesity, thereby aggravating glycemic control. Further research is needed to clarify this aspect of the relationship between periodontal diseases and diabetes.