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Poor Dental Health Might Increase Diabetes Risk


Researchers found that people with tooth decay and gum disease may have an increased risk of diabetes.

“Our findings suggest that dental exams may provide a way to identify someone at risk for developing diabetes, said lead author Raynald Samoa, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif.

We found a progressive positive relationship between worsening glucose tolerance and the number of missing teeth. 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,” he said.

Samoa and his colleagues looked at the records of 9,670 adults involved in the 2009-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They reviewed glucose tolerance indicators and body mass index, as well as diabetes diagnoses and whether the disease was treated with pills or insulin shots. In addition, they assessed oral health by recording gum disease and missing teeth due to decay. The team used all the data to ascertain the link between glucose tolerance and poor oral health, after controlling for contributing factors such as age, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Missing Teeth Increased As Glucose Tolerance Decreased

They saw a rising number of patients with missing teeth as glucose tolerance diminished. The proportion of people with missing teeth was 45.57 percent among individuals with normal glucose tolerance (NGT), 67.61 percent among those with abnormal glucose tolerance (AGT) and 82.87 percent among those with diabetes mellitus (DM). In addition, the number of missing teeth was 2.26 in the NGT group, 4.41 in the AGT group and 6.8 in the DM group.

The current study wasnt the first to show dental exams could indicate the onset of diabetes. In a 2011 investigation published in the Journal of Dental Research, an assessment of the gums and teeth was the means of identifying 73 percent of cases of diabetes.

Link Between Poor Oral Health and Diabetes Goes Both Ways

A possible link between poor oral health and diabetes isnt a new discovery, as the authors wrote that the association dates back to the 1930s. However, do gum disease and dental decay predispose a person to diabetes, or does diabetes make a person more susceptible to oral problems?

The relationship between the two maladies goes both ways. Diabetics have a higher likelihood of developing gum disease because theyre more vulnerable to bacterial infection. On the other hand, poor oral health can increase blood sugar, making diabetes harder to control.

A main takeaway of the study is that it provides one more reason to take care of our teeth. Diabetes is a debilitating disease, and any measure that can help prevent it is well worth the effort. According to the researchers, one third of Americans will be affected by diabetes by 2050. The study was presented recently at the 100th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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