A 2015 study suggests that people with type 2 diabetes lose on average twice as many teeth as those without the disease. While there are long-established links between diabetes and health complications such as heart disease and kidney damage, this study illuminates its relation to poor oral health. The study was published in the December 2015 issue of the medial journal ‘Preventing Chronic Disease’ and was led by Bei Wu, a professor of nursing and global health at Duke University.
While the causal relationship between tooth loss and diabetes remains unclear, it is known that diabetics have a higher incidence of gum disease – the ultimate result of which is tooth loss. The study authors also spoke of a two-way relationship: diabetes raises the likelihood of poor dental health, while unhealthy teeth and gums are linked to poor overall health in diabetics.
Doctors have also played a role in the problem. The American Diabetes Association advises that doctors refer diabetic patients to a dentist, but according to Wu, few doctors actually do this. This is partly because doctors prioritise foot and eye care, as diabetes is a major cause of vision loss and food amputation due to poor circulation and nerve damage. This means dental care can fall by the wayside.
The study authors also cited research that suggested diabetics don’t take as good care of their teeth as non-diabetics. Prior studies have found that adult diabetics were less likely to have seen a dentist in the past 12 months than those without the disease, and that they also do not brush and floss as often.
According to Wu’s team, one thing is clear: there is a real need to educate diabetics on the importance of dental self-care. To find out how East Bentleigh Dental Group can help ensure your dental health, book an appointment today.