A new study from Duke University researchers shows that diabetics, already at increased health risk for other conditions and maladies, are at increased risk for tooth loss. There is some ethnic and racial disparity in terms of the size of the risk.
Edson Hewlett, the American Dental Association spokesperson, confirmed this, saying “they did indeed find there was a clear connection between tooth loss and diabetes, especially among African Americans,” according to CBS News.
This is especially unfortunate because it causes a negative feedback loop for the patient’s health. The ill health from their diabetes causes poorer dental health, but then this poorer dental health causes a decrease in general health levels, and so on. As such, Hewlett said, it is of particular importance to manage your dental health if you have diabetes.
This is especially unfortunate because it causes a negative feedback loop for the patient’s health.
WebMD reports that currently, there are health factors which are looked at by doctors upon making a diabetes diagnosis. These are foot exams, as cases of poor circulation and nerve damage can occur in serious cases of diabetes and even lead to amputation of the foot, and eye exams, performed because diabetes is a major cause of loss of vision. However, doctors do not think to send patients to dentists.
To perform the analysis, researchers looked at rates of diabetes (which until just recently had been climbing steadily in the United States and in other countries) and of gum disease in the United States. This the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1.4 million new cases in 2014, compared to 1.7 million in 2009. In total, over 22 million in the US have diabetes most with type 2. And, although tooth loss had actually declined over this period, it had nonetheless remained more common amongst those with diabetes. African Americans had a higher chance of having gum disease, possibly, theorized the research team, because they have traditionally had more difficulty getting access to health care.