Oral Health and Diabetes Risk

May 11, 2020
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

How often should we be brushing our teeth? The standard recommended by dental experts has long remained two times per day for 2 minutes at a time, minimum, but is that really good enough? More importantly, is good enough really good enough? A new study in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) says no. That’s because according to the study if we really want to be effective at both brushing our teeth adequately and at staving off serious illnesses like diabetes, we need to be brushing more frequently.

The study found that by brushing ones teeth at least three times per day, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by eight percent. But while eight percent may not seem like a huge number, think of it this way. That is an eight percent decrease in risk simply from the act of brushing your teeth one more time during the day!

The study went on to say that persons who are missing 15 teeth or more are at a greater risk of developing diabetes – in fact they are at a 21 percent higher risk than those with healthier mouths, and those patients with the presence of gum disease (also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis) are at an elevated risk as well (a 9 percent increase).

So, what’s the link between oral hygiene and diabetes? Experts believe the answer to that question is inflammation. You see, when we don’t care for our teeth and gums, our gums become inflamed and red. That inflammation is caused by bacteria from the mouth infecting the gum tissue. That bacteria doesn’t just infect the gum tissue, though- it travels throughout the body via the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on other body systems and increasing the risk of illnesses such as diabetes.

The great news is that helping to reduce your risk of serious illness is easier than many people realize. Just by increasing your brushing time by two minutes each day, you can experience the benefits of a beautiful smile and improved overall body health. What could be easier than that?