Brushing teeth 3 times daily linked to lower risk of diabetes, dental disease

In a new study, researchers found that brushing teeth three times a day or more is linked to an 8% lower risk of diabetes, while the presence of the dental disease is linked to a 9% increased risk and many missing teeth (15 or more) is linked to a 21% increased risk.

These findings underline the importance of good dental hygiene.

The research was conducted by a team at Seoul Hospital and Ewha Woman’s University.

Inflammation plays an important role in the development of diabetes, a major global health problem. Periodontal disease is also common in the general population.

Because periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene can provoke transient infection and systemic inflammation, the team hypothesized that periodontal disease and oral hygiene would be linked to diabetes risk (including both type 1 and type 2 diabetes).

They analyzed data collected between 2003 and 2006 on 188,013 people in Korea.

The team found 17.5% (around one in six) of the people had periodontal disease. After a median follow-up of 10 years, diabetes developed in 31,545 people (16%).

The presence of periodontal disease and the number of missing teeth (15 or more) were both linked to increased risk of diabetes by 9% and 21% respectively.

Frequent tooth brushing (3 times per day or more) was associated with an 8% decreased risk of diabetes.

Further analysis showed different results for adults aged 51 years and under compared to those 52 years and older.

For the younger group, brushing teeth twice a day was linked to a reduced risk of developing diabetes by 10%, and three times by 14%, compared with those who brushed once a day or not at all.

In the older group, there were was no difference in diabetes risk between those brushing twice a day and those brushing once a day or not at all.

However, brushing three or more times per day compared with once or not at all was linked to a 7% decreased risk.

The periodontal disease appeared to have a stronger effect in younger adults: in the younger group, it was linked to a 14% increased risk of diabetes, while in the older group the increased risk was 6%.

And for adults 51 years and under, having one to seven missing teeth was linked to a 16% increased risk of diabetes, whereas for the older group 52 years and above, having 15 or more missing teeth had the strongest effect, linked to a 34% increased risk of diabetes.

There were also differences between men and women, with stronger associations between increasing brushing and reduced diabetes risk in women.

The authors say that tooth decay, especially as it worsens, can contribute to chronic and systemic inflammation, and increase the production and circulation of inflammatory biomarkers, which as previous studies have shown are linked to insulin resistance and development of diabetes.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Tae-Jin Song (Seoul Hospital and Ewha Woman’s University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea).

The study is published in Diabetologia.

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