Here’s how diabetes puts you at tooth loss risk

Good dental care is extremely important for diabetics as according to a recent study, the disease can risk a patient’s oral health. The University of Pennsylvania researchers found that the oral microbiome is affected by diabetes, causing a shift to increase its pathogenicity. The research not only showed that the oral microbiome of mice with diabetes shifted but that the change was associated with increased inflammation and bone loss. “Up until now, there had been no concrete evidence that diabetes affects the oral microbiome,” said senior author Dana Graves. “But the studies that had been done were not rigorous.” Just four years ago, the European Federation of Periodontology and the American Academy of Periodontology issued a report stating there is no compelling evidence that diabetes is directly linked to changes in the oral microbiome. But Graves and colleagues were skeptical and decided to pursue the question, using a mouse model that mimics Type 2 diabetes. “My argument was that the appropriate studies just hadn’t been done, so I decided, We’ll do the appropriate study,” Graves said. The team began by characterizing the oral microbiome of diabetic mice compared to healthy mice. They found that the diabetic mice had a similar oral microbiome to their healthy counterparts when they were sampled prior to developing high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia. But, once the diabetic mice were hyperglycemic, their microbiome became distinct from their normal littermates, with a less diverse community of bacteria.
The diabetic mice also had periodontitis, including a loss of bone supporting the teeth, and increased levels of IL-17, a signaling molecule important in immune response and inflammation. Increased levels of IL-17 in humans are associated with periodontal disease. “The diabetic mice behaved similar to humans that had periodontal bone loss and increased IL-17 caused by a genetic disease,” Graves said. The findings underscored an association between changes in the oral microbiome and periodontitis but didn’t prove that the microbial changes were responsible for disease.

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