In our Castle Rock dentistry blog, we’ve often talk about the connection that exists between our oral and overall health. Patients who deal with gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing chronic health conditions that range from heart disease to arthritis. However, the one disease that best illustrates the connection that exists between our mouths and bodies is diabetes.
Patients with gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels when compared to diabetes patients with healthy gums. Conversely, patients with diabetes have a harder time fighting off infections like gum disease. This creates a push/pull where you’re more likely to develop severe gum disease if you have uncontrolled diabetes, and it’s harder to control your diabetes when you have gum disease.
Perhaps considering this connection, it’s not surprising to find the results of a new study, which suggests U.S. adults with diabetes are no more likely to control their disease than patients were 15 years ago.
A Stall in Diabetes Control
Typically, the treatment for diabetes focuses on controlling blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, as well as stopping smoking.
In this recent study, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed data on diabetes care in the U.S. from between the years 2005 and 2016. Researchers discovered that one in four adults with diabetes were not properly diagnosed, and that nearly one in three were not receiving the right type of care for their diabetes.
“Fewer than one in four American adults with diagnosed diabetes achieve a controlled level of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and do not smoke,” wrote the research team. “Our results suggest that, despite major advances in diabetes drug discovery and movement to develop innovative care delivery models over the past two decades, achievement of diabetes care has not improved in the U.S. since 2005.”
Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, the majority of which have type 2 diabetes, which is linked to lifestyle.
Based on the results from researchers, certain patient groups were less like to achieve diabetes care goals than others.
Younger females and nonwhite adults with diabetes were less likely to properly maintain control of their blood sugar levels. Conversely, patients with medical insurance were the most likely to successfully reach their treatment goals.
Despite enormous advances made over the last 15 years in diabetes drugs and our ability to diagnose the disease, diabetes patients as a whole have had difficulties maintaining their blood sugar levels and managing their disease.
Not coincidentally, the prevalence of gum disease has also continued to rise among Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 47 percent of American adults have either mild, moderate, or severe gum disease. The prevalence of the disease only becomes greater the older we get, as 70 percent of seniors over the age of 65 experience some form of the disease.
Considering the connection that exists between gum disease and diabetes, it only makes sense that as country, we’ve struggled to gain a better foothold against uncontrolled diabetes due, in some part, to our declining oral health.
Why Castle Rock Dentistry Matters
It’s this mouth/body connection we touch on so frequently in our Castle Rock dentistry blog that works to determine our ability to fight off and control diseases like diabetes. By brushing and flossing daily, along with receiving regular preventative dental care, we can significantly lower our risk for the poor foundational oral health problems that increase our risk for disease.
To better help protect our health in the future, we need to make our oral health just as important a part of our general care and lifestyle choices as when we consider what’s best for our cardiovascular and cognitive health. Anything less only invites future disaster that we can easily avoid.