We all know that diabetes is a problem that many Americans are facing, and many more people will face it in the coming years. It is a disease that can take quite a toll on your wellbeing, and can affect your health in any numbers of ways, including messing with your nerves, causing image problems, and harm your cardiovascular system. It can also harm your teeth, according to a new study. In fact, people that have diabetes lose twice as many teeth as those who do not suffer from the disease.
The study comes from Duke University researchers. The study showed the tooth loss dropped overall in the United States in the last 40 years. However, those who had diabetes were still vulnerable to tooth loss, especially black Americans with diabetes.
The study analyzed more than 37,000 people who were examined between 1971 and 2012 with information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
"They did indeed find there was a clear connection between tooth loss and diabetes, especially among African Americans," said American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Edmond Hewlett.
He also said that the study sheds light on the two issues that are both timely and important in moving forward.
"One is the connection between oral health and overall health. This is something we've been aware of, but this gives additional strong evidence about that. And the other big thing is health disparities -- the rate at which some diseases can affect some racial or ethnic groups more than others," said Hewlett, who is also a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry.
Hewlett also said that diabetes can cause gum disease and tooth loss, but that it is a reciprocal relationship.
"Gum disease can also complicate diabetes and make it more difficult to manage. Then let's layer on the access to care issue that some patients face. There's other good evidence showing African Americans have lower access to dental care," he said.
In a statement provided to CBS News, the study authors said their findings "highlight the need to improve dental self-care and knowledge of diabetes risks among people with diabetes, especially among African Americans who experience more tooth loss."
Hewlett recommends that people who have diabetes should go see the dentist twice a year and maintain proper oral health.
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"It's critically important to understand that managing your dental health is part of managing your diabetes," he said.