We always tend to keep and treat dental and medical ailments as separate entities. This couldn’t be farther from the truth; countless researches have shown that systemic diseases have an impact on oral health and vice versa. These systemic diseases have been shown to act as risk factors and indicators in the manifestation of oral diseases. Chronic and uncontrolled diseases such as diabetes have damaging effects on oral health. These diseases compromise your immune system making it less efficient to fight. Bacteria from oral infections can also reach your body and affects various parts like the gut and respiratory tract. This is why brushing and flossing help to fight oral diseases and helps maintain overall health.
Many studies have been conducted to analyze a link between oral health and various systemic diseases. In this post, we shall discuss the link present between diabetes and oral diseases.
A study led by Dr. Yoonkyung Chang, clinical assistant professor of neurology at Ewha Woman’s University Mokdong Hospital, South Korea, aimed to find a relation between diabetes and oral health. Dr. Chang and the team conducted an intensive study which found out that individuals who practice good oral hygiene and have good oral health care at a much lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Brushing thrice a day regularly was found to be effective at keeping diabetes at bay. On the other hand, this study also concluded that people who had an indifferent attitude towards oral hygiene also somehow have poorly controlled blood sugar levels and were at risk of developing diabetes and other complications. This new information helped them to show a relationship between oral health and new-onset diabetes. Good oral health meant a lower risk of developing new-onset diabetes; however, the exact mechanism still remains non-conclusive.
Inadequate oral hygiene practices like not brushing correctly and not flossing on a regular basis lead to the accumulation of plaque. This plaque contains a plethora of disease-causing bacteria, which is why it has to be removed regularly. However, inadequate and faulty oral habits lead to this plaque being accumulated on our teeth and gums, which leads to gum diseases, dental decay and inflammation. These bacteria are notorious and, over time, can even enter the bloodstream, where they can generate a systemic reaction. It can lead to the generation of the immune response, which can alter the blood sugar levels and decrease the body’s ability to heal. This is the link between oral diseases and diabetes. However, the cause and effect of this still remain unknown. Still, we can say with certainty can there is a strong relationship between oral diseases and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Endocrinologist from NYU Langone Health in New York City Dr. Akankansha Goyal, also weighed in on this. Dr. Goyal shares that diabetes can make the individual more susceptible to oral diseases due to altered immunity, but the reverse is still not conclusively proven.
The study conducted in South Korea was exceptionally meticulous and saw a participation of 190,000 people with an average age range of 53. The process of data collection continued from 2003 to 2006 where it was seen that one out of every six participants suffered from gum disease. These participants also went through regular follow-ups, which continued for over 10 years on average. It was seen that over 16% of these participants eventually developed diabetes. Various factors such as age, weight, blood pressure, physical activity, income, smoking status and alcohol intake and were digitally recorded. The research concluded that participants with gum diseases were at a 9% higher risk of developing diabetes. In contrast, participants who had 15 or more missing teeth had a 21% higher risk of suffering from diabetes. This shows how closely oral health and systemic health are related.
Dr. Goyal suggests following good oral hygiene practices, scheduling regular visits to the dental office and combining it with a healthy lifestyle can help keep diabetes away.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is in no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.