Original Publication
Open Access

Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health for Medical Students

Published: July 8, 2013 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9468

Included in this publication:

  • Answer Form.docx
  • Answer Key.docx
  • BOHC Toolkit.pdf
  • Evaluation Form.docx
  • Instructor's Guide.docx
  • Objectives and Case Studies.doc

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Research has identified associations between poor dental health and a worsening of systemic diseases or conditions including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, chronic kidney disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Periodontal disease is a common chronic infectious disease and it is characterized by a progressive gingival inflammatory response to bacterial plaque on the teeth that eventually leads to a loss of the involved teeth and the adjacent dental tissue. Studies continue to provide strong evidence linking periodontal pathogens and adverse dental health to poor general health outcomes associated with specific systemic conditions. There are plausible pathways that could explain the observed relationships. Confounding by demographic or other variables could explain part of the association, but there is also a causal link mediated by several possible pathways including bacterial endotoxins, cytokines and other inflammatory mediators.
As there are common risk factors between oral and systemic diseases, one must be cautious when interpreting the literature and have a proper understanding of the role of potential confounding variables like socioeconomic status or health behavior as well as a fundamental understanding of the different systemic diseases currently shown to be associated with poor oral health. The goal of this learning module is to provide instruction about currently available knowledge regarding the association between periodontal disease and cardiovascular outcomes and periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes as well as supplement the level of understanding through the use of case-based patient scenarios via an online module to third-year medical students.

The learning module was given to eleven (11) third-year medical students along with the guidance for implementation as described in steps 1 through 4. Five (5) students returned the evaluation forms to the primary author. The estimated time for completion of the module ranged from 41 to 60 minutes. As described on the evaluation form, students are asked to rate the success of the information provided in meeting the goal for each listed objective. The choices provided are: a) excellent, b) very good, c) good, d) satisfactory, and e) poor. All respondents rated all objectives from excellent to satisfactory.

The students were also asked to type their comments in the area below each response as to how each objective can be improved. We addressed all concerns that could have led to a response that was less than excellent. The learning module is designed so that all students who take the module can send a completed evaluation form to the primary author so that the module can be constantly improved and updated. The module is also designed so that the students can check the corrected answers against the case scenario questions. The student can take the module and complete the stated objectives without faculty oversight.

Educational Objectives

  1. To describe the different types of periodontal disease.
  2. To describe the different types of periodontal treatment.
  3. To describe the available evidence of how periodontal disease may influence atherosclerotic vascular disease outcomes.
  4. To describe the most recent literature about the beneficial effects of periodontal treatment on cardiovascular outcomes or surrogate cardiovascular markers.
  5. To describe the bidirectional relationship that exists between periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes.
  6. To describe the most recent literature about the beneficial effects of periodontal treatment on the metabolic control of type 2 diabetic patients.
  7. To recognize periodontal disease when present in the oral cavity and be able to determine if the patient should be referred to a dentist for periodontal treatment.

Author Information

  • Brian Laurence, DDS, PhD: Howard University
  • Alison Glascoe: Howard University College of Dentistry
  • Crystal Mcintosh: Howard University College of Dentistry
  • Akeyla Brown: Howard University College of Dentistry

None to report.

None to report.


Laurence B, Glascoe A, Mcintosh C, Brown A. Periodontal disease and systemic health for medical students. MedEdPORTAL. 2013;9:9468. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9468

This publication is co-sponsored by the American Dental Education Association.