As patients who visit our dental office in Sandy, Oregon know, your oral health plays a vital role in determining your overall health as well. However, what many patients may not realize is the impact their health may have on their oral health.
Patients, for example, who suffer from diabetes are nearly 1.5 times more likely to suffer from tooth loss when compared to patients without the disease, reports the evidence of a new study.
Patients with diabetes are also more likely to lose their teeth earlier in life when compared to individuals without the disease of the same age. Additionally, patients with diabetes suffer more severely and more frequently from tooth decay and gum disease, which probably further contributes to tooth loss.
Researchers have identified poor blood sugar control as a contributing factor in microvascular disease (nephropathy, neuropathy, retinopathy) and macrovascular disease (stroke and heart attacks). Researchers have created specific recommendations for managing and preventing these types of complications. Despite this, many healthcare providers and endocrinologists seem to ignore the effect of diabetes on oral health.
Finding the Connection
Researchers from the University of Nevada tried to understand the factors that contribute to tooth loss suffered by diabetics in a new study.
As part of their study, researchers enrolled 202 adult participants with diabetes who agreed to volunteer after visiting the university clinic. Participants were likely to be overweight, and nearly 2/3rds were current or former smokers. The results of this study were published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology.
Researchers asked participants 48 questions regarding basic background information such as diabetes history, complications and control; dental care history and problems; and osteoporosis. Researchers then crosschecked the answers submitted by participants with the data collected in their clinic charts and personally counted the teeth participants had remaining.
The data found that 189 of the 202 study participants were missing at least one tooth. Researchers also noted that previous studies had shown that diabetic patients have decreased awareness of what constitutes as quality oral health, and their medical providers employed few strategies to improve awareness. Patients who suffer from diabetes are less likely to visit a dentist when compared to those without the disease.
According to the study, patients with diabetes were significantly more likely to develop gum disease and suffer from tooth loss when compared to the general population.
When researchers adjusted their findings to compensate for a variety of independent factors, they confirmed that older patients, those who failed to floss, and those suffering from diabetic retinopathy had fewer remaining teeth than those without these conditions.
Improving Oral Health
Patients who suffer from diabetes may need to take additional steps to protect their current and long-term oral health. This may mean making more regular visits to our dental office in Sandy, Oregon, brushing and flossing more frequently throughout the day, or a change of diet.
Depending on the current state of your oral health and how well you manage your diabetes will directly impact what additional steps you may need to take to maintain and improve your oral health.