People with poor oral health may have an increased risk of developing diabetes, a new study warns. Researchers found a positive relationship between the number of missing teeth people had and glucose intolerance.
It’s well-known that people with poorly controlled diabetes have a greater risk of developing dental problems like gum disease and decaying teeth, but new research suggests that poor oral health could also signify an onset of the disease.
The current study, done by researchers at City of Hope National Medical Center, suggests dental exams may be a tool for diagnosing a person’s risk for developing diabetes.
Oral health may indicate whether someone is at risk of developing diabetes, a new study found
Diabetes is a chronic condition that results from high blood glucose, or too much sugar in the blood.
It affects 30.3 million people in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one in four people don’t know they have it.
For the study, researchers led by Dr Raynald Samoa, an assistant professor in the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology Metabolism, reviewed the records of 9,670 adults aged 20 years old and older.
The investigators analyzed the group’s reported body mass index (BMI) and glucose tolerance states.
Researchers also took note of the number of missing teeth due to decay, cavities and periodontal diseases, or infections of the structures around the teeth.
After controlling for factors like age, gender, race, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and poverty, they found a progressive increase int he number of participants with missing teeth as their glucose intolerance worsened.
They found that 45.57 percent of people in the group with normal glucose tolerance had missing teeth compared to those with 67.61 percent in the group with abnormal glucose tolerance, and 82.87 percent of people with diabetes.
‘Although a causal relationship cannot be inferred from this cross-sectional study, it demonstrates that poor dental outcome can be observed before the onset of overt diabetes,’ said Dr Samoa.
The authors wrote in their abstract that as far back as the 1930s, periodontal disease and dental caries have been suggested to be linked with diabetes, and that that by 2050, one-third of Americans are expected to be affected by diabetes.
According to the researchers, periodontal disease and dental decay have been suggested to be linked with diabetes as far back as the 1930s.
In fact, experts at the American Diabetes Association said dentists are in a good position to find patients who have or are at risk of developing diabetes since people usually have dental check-ups more frequently than they see their doctor.
They say oral conditions like gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), cavities, burning or dryness of the mouth, saliva problems, sores or rashes.
Previous studies have suggested dental exams could detect the onset of diabetes.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Dental Research found dentists detected 73 percent of cases of diabetes by giving a periodontal exam – checking for missing teeth and the severity of pockets between gums and teeth.
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes have an increased risk for developing gum disease because they are more susceptible to bacterial infection.
This may be due to the thickening of blood vessels, which is a complication of diabetes, according to WebMD.
When blood vessels – which deliver oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body, even the mouth – are thickened, this slows the transport of nutrients and the removal of harmful waste, increasing the risk of gum infection.
Symptoms of the disease include blurry vision, unintentional weight loss, urinating a lot, dry skin and sores that heal slowly.