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Risk of complications among diabetics self-reporting oral health status in Canada: a population-based cohort study


Background — Periodontitis has been associated with diabetes and poor health. While clear associations have been identified for the diabetes–oral health link, less is known about the implications of poor oral health status for incident complications of diabetes. This study investigated the risk of diabetes complications associated with self-reported “poor to fair” and “good to excellent” oral health among diabetics living in Ontario, Canada.

Methods — This was a cohort study of diabetics who took part in the Canadian Community Health Survey (2003 and 2007–08). Self-reported oral health was linked to electronic health records held at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Participants aged 40 years and over, who self-reported oral health status in linked databases were included (N = 5,183). Cox proportional hazard models were constructed to determine the risk of diabetes complications. Participants who did not experience any complications were censored. Models were adjusted for age and sex, followed by social characteristics and behavioural factors. The population attributable risk of diabetes complications was calculated using fully adjusted hazard ratios.

Results — Diabetes complications differed by self-reported oral health; 35% of the total sample experienced a complication and 34% of those reporting “good to excellent” oral health (n = 4090) experienced a complication in comparison to 38% of those with “fair to poor” oral health (n = 1093). For those reporting “poor to fair” oral health, the hazard of a diabetes complication was 30% greater (HR 1.29; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.61) than those reporting “good to excellent” oral health. The population level risk of complications attributable to oral health was 5.2% (95% CI: 0.67, 8.74).

Conclusions — Our findings indicate that reporting “poor to fair” oral health status may be attributed to health complications among diabetics, after adjusting for a wide range of confounders. This has important public health implications for diabetics in Ontario, Canada.



Parbhakar KK, Rosella LC, Singhal S, Quiñonez CR. PLoS One. 2020; 15(1):e0218056. Epub 2020 Jan 9.

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