Brushing and flossing should be part of everyone’s daily habits. For people with diabetes, proper oral hygiene is even more important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
A recent study looked at the rates of tooth loss in Americans with and without diabetes.
The results of the study showed that people with diabetes were more than twice as likely to lose all of their teeth than people without diabetes.
Manthan H. Patel, BDS, MPH, a student at the School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo, and Mark E. Moss, DDS, PhD, a public health dentist at the Bureau of Dental Health at the New York State Department of Health, led this study into associations between diabetes and tooth loss.
According to the study authors, tooth loss is a major problem for people 60 years of age and older. Tooth loss can lead to difficulty chewing and speaking, feeling self-conscious about one’s appearance and social stigma.
“Although the prevalence of tooth loss has declined over the past few decades, it still is a significant public health problem that will continue to affect the baby boomer generation in the United States,” the authors wrote.
For the study, the researchers looked closely at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2003 and 2004.
Information about the oral health exams and the diabetes status of 2,508 survey participants, 50 years of age and older, were evaluated by the researchers.
The results of the study showed that 28 percent of people with diabetes had lost all of their teeth, compared to 14 percent of people who did not have diabetes.
The study authors listed long-term gum disease, tooth decay and cavities as the primary reasons for tooth loss in adults.
People with low income and less education were more likely to have complete tooth loss, which may have to do with access to proper dental care. Only 19 percent of people who never smoked had total tooth loss, compared to 43 percent of smokers.
People with diabetes that had lost some, but not all, teeth were missing an average of 10 teeth, compared to 7 teeth for people without diabetes.
“These study results revealed that adults with diabetes are at higher risk of experiencing tooth loss and edentulism (complete tooth loss) than are adults without diabetes. One of every five cases of edentulism in the United States is linked to diabetes,” the authors concluded.
The results of this study were consistent with results found in two other large studies that looked at tooth loss among people with and without diabetes.
The authors suggested that healthcare providers work to educate patients with diabetes about the importance of oral health care in this high-risk group.
“This study gives additional support for the assertion that diabetes is an independent risk factor for tooth loss. This should help to justify inclusion of oral health care in diabetes prevention and control programs and other public policy measures,” said Mark Bornfeld, DDS, a practicing dentist in New York. Dr. Bornfeld was not involved with this study.
The cost of a dental cleaning and check up may vary between $0 and $150, depending on location and insurance coverage.
The American Dental Association recommends people floss seven days per week and brush twice per day.
This study was published in May in The Journal of the American Dental Association.
No outside funding was used for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared.