Type 2 Diabetes – Do Mouth Infections Affect the Development of Diabetes?

Periodontal disease, or infection of the gums and the bones underlying the teeth, is known to be associated with diabetes. Researchers at Columbia University in New York, United States, set out to discover whether periodontal disease could contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes. To do this, they looked at people with periodontal infection who did not have Type 2 diabetes, and then tested to determine whether they were on the road to developing the condition.

This particular study, published in the journal Diabetes Care in July 2012 included 3,616 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the years 1999 to 2004.

It was found:

  • the participants who had periodontal infection also had higher rates of insulin resistance than those without mouth infection, and
  • those with the highest or worst degree of periodontal disease were likeliest to have insulin resistance.

From this it was concluded having periodontal disease was associated with insulin resistance. Since insulin resistance is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, it is possible having an infection of the gums and/or bones underlying your teeth, could line up people up for the future development of Type 2 diabetes.

Mayo Clinic lists signs and symptoms of periodontal disease as:

  • swollen gums,
  • teeth appearing longer than normal because the gums are pulled away from them,
  • red, purplish, bleeding, or tender gums,
  • spaces developing between the teeth,
  • bad taste in your mouth,
  • lose teeth, and
  • changes in the way the teeth fit together when your mouth is closed.

Some risk factors, such as heredity and old age cannot be prevented, but the good news is that good oral hygiene, not smoking, and practicing good nutrition can help to prevent mouth disease.

Brushing after meals and flossing are good ways of preventing the gum disease that progresses to periodontal disease. Ask your dentist or oral hygienist for instructions on proper brushing and flossing.

Vitamin C is important for maintaining healthy gums and teeth. The term “limey” was coined when it was found that British sailors who ate limes did not develop problems with mouth infections and their teeth.

Limes, of course, provided them with a source of vitamin C. Other citrus fruits, tomatoes and bell peppers are also a good sources of vitamin C. Other fruits and vegetables provide some vitamin C as well. Raw fruits and vegetables are best, since cooking can destroy the vitamin.

We all need to take in some vitamin C each day, because it is an essential vitamin, meaning our body cannot make vitamin C. The National Institute of Health in the United States recommends:

  • 75 mg of vitamin C each day for adult women, and
  • 90 mg per day for adult men.

That’s about the amount found in an average orange. Take good care of your gums and teeth and it could help you to prevent Type 2 diabetes or, at least, keep it under control.

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