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Gum Disease Affects Diabetic Children Earlier Than Anticipated

Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center have found that the lethal impact of diabetes can affect the gums much earlier than anticipated. Researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health and Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center also collaborated in this study, which// appears in the February issue of Diabetes Care.

"Our research illustrates that programs to prevent and treat periodontal disease should be considered a standard of care for young patients with diabetes," said Ira B. Lamster, D.D.S, M.M.Sc., dean of the College of Dental Medicine and lead researchers of the study. Robin Goland, M.D., co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center said that previous studies had established the link between diabetes and gum disease, but this was thought to occur as age advanced, "Other studies have shown that patients with diabetes are significantly less likely than those without diabetes to have seen a dentist within the past year. This was due to a perceived lack of need, so clearly it's important that physicians and dentists and their patients with diabetes learn that they need to focus extra attention on oral health," Goland said. The current study monitored 182 diabetic children and adolescents, aged between six to 18 years and used 160 non-diabetic children as a control group. It was found that the diabetic children had significantly more dental plaque and inflammation of the gums than non-diabetic children. Early signs of advanced periodontal disease was found in 60 percent of diabetic children aged six to eleven years. If the gum disease is not treated, it progresses to periodontitis, which could result in early tooth loss. The study is progressing and ultimately aims to examine 700 children. "It will be extremely interesting to see the results from the entire cohort and to further explore if specific diabetes-associated factors are related to the early development of periodontal disease" said Evanthia Lalla, D.D.S., M.S., associate professor
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