Common diabetes drug may treat gum disease and aid healthy aging

In a recent article published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, a team of researchers from the College of Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Sciences has unveiled a novel method to combat periodontal (gum) disease and potentially reduce the incidence of diabetes and obesity. This innovative approach centers around utilizing the common Type 2 diabetes drug, metformin, to control inflammation and blood sugar levels in both oral and systemic contexts.

Periodontal (gum) disease is highly prevalent globally and closely linked to systemic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Lifestyle choices, including increased sugar intake, are common contributors to gum disease, diabetes, and obesity. While diabetes, obesity, and gum disease may develop throughout our lives, gum disease has the potential to be detected earliest, with onset possible as early as 30 years old.

Currently, the only available treatment strategy for addressing gum disease involves deep cleaning of the teeth to eliminate bacteria in the oral cavity, coupled with antibiotic therapy. However, this treatment does not prevent the ongoing development of systemic-related diseases like diabetes and obesity.


A medication known for regulating sugar metabolism and commonly used to treat diabetes, is not typically utilized in dentistry. Researchers found that metformin significantly prevented bone loss during the induction of periodontal disease and age-related bone loss in live mice. The research team conducted initial clinical trials testing the use of this drug in patients with gum disease without diabetes. The trial revealed improved clinical outcomes for gum disease treatment, demonstrating control over oral and systemic blood sugar levels and inflammation, even in high-bacterial environments.

Implementing this novel method for preventing gum disease may also contribute to weight control and blood sugar regulation, proving to be a potential solution for preventing both systemic and oral diseases. Metformin, an affordable drug globally, with a market price of £0.04 per tablet, could be implemented at a lower cost, especially if provided by the National Health Service (NHS).

“Metformin is readily available worldwide, and its affordability makes it a viable prophylactic drug for both oral and systemic diseases, with potential global adoption. This will help many age more healthily—all starting with caring for their oral health,” the researchers highlighted.

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