People who brush their teeth frequently may have a reduced risk of diabetes, while individuals who neglect their oral hygiene could actually increase their risk, new research suggests.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes people to have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health complications, including problems with the heart, eyes, feet and kidneys. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.
With Type 1 diabetes, a person’s pancreas does not produce any insulin – the hormone that allows glucose to enter our cells. With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas either doesn’t make enough insulin or makes ineffective insulin.
Diabetes UK says one in 15 people in the UK have diabetes, including one million people who have Type 2, but haven’t been diagnosed.
What’s the association between better oral hygiene and diabetes?
According to the cohort study conducted by researchers from the Ewha Womans University College of Medicine, Catholic University of Korea and Asian Medical Center, all in Seoul, South Korea, people who brush their teeth at least three times a day have an 8% lower risk of developing diabetes.
For the research, the findings of which are published in the journal Diabetologia, the team from Korea analysed the health records of over 180,000 individuals. Interestingly, the research also revealed that people who had poor oral health actually had an increased risk of developing diabetes. For example, people with dental disease had a 9% higher risk of developing diabetes, while those with numerous teeth missing (15 or more) had a 21% higher risk.
Age and gender seem to play a part too
The researchers also found that diabetes risk differs by age, with people aged 52 and older experiencing no risk reduction if they only brushed once a day, twice a day, or not at all; yet if they brushed three times a day, they lowered their risk of diabetes by 7%.
For younger individuals (51 and younger), brushing twice a day was linked to a 10% reduced risk of developing diabetes vs. those who brushed once a day or not at all. Meanwhile, brushing teeth three times a day reduced the risk by 14%.
There were also stronger associations between increasing brushing and reduced diabetes risk in women.
Study lead author, Dr. Yoonkyung Chang, a professor of neurology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said that while healthy lifestyle choices had the biggest positive impact on diabetes risk reduction, “Frequent tooth brushing reduces local inflammation and bacteremia, and if good brushing habits persist for a long time, this can affect systemic diseases.”
The secondary health risks relating to poor oral hygiene are becoming a real topic of conversation and it’s time we all took notice, not just for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren.
At Premier Choice, we wholeheartedly support our clients in their attempts to improve and maintain good health for their employees and would be delighted to provide further information for your consideration.
I joined Premier Choice Group as an SME/Corporate Consultant in 2017 and look after the Healthcare & Protection needs of a nationwide portfolio. I began my career in Healthcare and Protection in 1985 with BUPA, before moving on to Royal & Sun Alliance. In 2002, I became an Intermediary and worked with Private Clients, SME’s and Corporate clients on a local, national and international basis.