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People with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontitis. In turn, the gum disease can make the diabetes worse.

“People with diabetes are more prone to infection, which makes it harder for their bodies to regulate their blood sugar,” says Dr. Zainab Rangawala.

Diabetics with gum disease usually get more severe forms of the disease.

A study published in the journal Diabetologia found that people who have gum disease are twice as likely to develop diabetes than those without periodontal disease. It’s not clear whether the link is causal or just a coincidence, but there are some suggestions that inflammation caused by gum disease may have a direct effect on blood sugar levels.