How does diabetes affect dental health? | Medicine

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are prone to tooth decay, and a new study from Rutgers may explain why: reduced strength and durability of enamel and dentin, the hard substance under the enamel that gives teeth structure.

The researchers induced type 1 diabetes in 35 mice and used a Vickers microhardness meter to compare their teeth with those of 35 healthy control mice for 28 weeks. Although both groups initially had comparable teeth, after 12 weeks the enamel became significantly softer in the diabetic mice, and this gap continued to increase throughout the study. Significant differences in dentin microhardness appeared by week 28.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Oral Biology, is the result of a multi-year effort by researchers at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine to understand how diabetes affects dental health and to develop treatments that counteract its negative effects.

Previous studies have shown that people with both types of diabetes have significantly increased rates of most oral diseases, both of the teeth and of the surrounding soft tissues. In the new study, scientists also demonstrated that diabetes can interfere with the ongoing process of adding minerals to teeth as they wear out from normal use.

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