A study by University at Buffalo researcher Mehmet A. Eskan has suggested that healthcare providers treating people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) should check their patient’s teeth.
The study found that patients with T2D who have good chewing function have a lower blood glucose level than patients who have impaired chewing function.
The retrospective study looked at data gathered from 94 patients with T2D who had been seen at an outpatient clinic in a hospital in Istanbul, Turkey.
The patients were divided into two groups: the first group included patients who had good “occlusal function” —enough teeth placed properly and making contact in such a way that a person can chew their food well.
The second group couldn’t chew well, if at all, because they were lacking some or all of those teeth.
Digestion, the process by which your body extracts nutrients from food, begins as chewing stimulates the production of saliva.
Nutrients that are important to reduce blood glucose levels include fiber, which is obtained in large part through chewing appropriate foods.
Chewing also has been reported to stimulate reactions in the intestine that lead to increased insulin secretion, and the hypothalamus that promote a feeling of satiety, resulting in less food intake.
Dental Care and the Big Picture
Addressing oral health has recently become part of the approach to managing diabetes along with encouraging patients to maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, and quit smoking.
“Our findings show there is a strong association between mastication and controlling blood glucose levels among T2D patients,” said Eskan.
The dramatic improvement in one patient’s case described in a 2020 study co-led by Eskan illustrates the potential benefit of improving occlusal function through dental implants and appropriate fixed restoration.
A T2D patient whose chewing function was severely impaired by missing teeth presented initially with a blood glucose level of 9.1. The patient obtained nutrition by using a bottle and eating baby food.
Four months after treatment with a full mouth implant-supported fixed restoration, the patient’s glucose level dropped to 7.8. After 18 months, it decreased to 6.2.
Research has shown that an increase of just 1% in blood glucose level is associated with a 40% increase in cardiovascular or ischemic heart disease mortality among people with diabetes.
Other complications can include kidney disease, eye damage, neuropathy, and slow healing of simple wounds like cuts and blisters.
It is essential for healthcare providers treating people with T2D to pay attention to their patients’ dental health.
Checking the patients’ teeth and assessing their chewing function can help improve their blood glucose levels and prevent complications associated with T2D.
Further research is needed to explore possible causal relationships between occlusal support and blood glucose levels.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies about how COVID-19 is linked to diabetes, and scientists find a new way to detect fatty liver disease accurately.
For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that Vitamin E could help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance in diabetes, and results showing eating eggs in a healthy diet may reduce risks of diabetes, high blood pressure.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.
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