Oral & Vision Health Blog

Diabetes, Liver and Kidney Disease and Dental Health

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” Nathaniel Branden

You’ve been made aware and have finally accepted your doctor’s prognosis: You have type 2 diabetes. Even though members of your family have it, you just weren’t expecting it. The symptoms you’ve been experiencing make sense now: frequent urination, weight and muscle loss, increased sense of thirst, cuts or wounds that heal slowly, and blurred vision, to name a few.

Now that you’ve accepted this new curve ball in your health, you have amped up your Google research and have found a lot of information on this disease. For example, you now understand that diabetes may cause kidney disease, as well as fatty liver disease. But did you know that there is a connection between liver and kidney disease and dental health? As you can guess, there is. The dental connection is a disease called periodontitis, also known as gum disease.  

Periodontitis and Diabetes

Periodontitis is a gum infection that causes the destruction of the tissue and bone that support your teeth. It can cause loose teeth and tooth loss. Studies show clinical evidence that periodontal infection makes it harder to control unhealthy blood sugar levels. And on the flip side, patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of getting periodontitis, and other dental infections. In fact, this disease is more extreme in people with diabetes because it slows the healing process and decreases the body’s ability to resist infection. Here’s how this plays out with liver and kidney disease. 

Periodontal Disease and Liver Disease 

People with type 2 diabetes may have a higher risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition causes an increase in fat in your liver. The buildup is not connected to the amount of alcohol a person drinks.

Here’s the dental connection: According to Mayo Clinic, almost 50 percent of the people with type 2 diabetes end up with NAFLD. Other studies show that when periodontal treatments improve, so do certain liver functions in patients with NAFLD.  

Periodontal Disease and Kidney Disease 

Our bodies are amazing in how it functions. One of its many wonders is our kidneys. This organ has tiny blood vessels inside it that act as filters, removing waste from our blood. However, high levels of blood glucose in our system, overwhelm the kidneys, forcing them to filter too much blood. If not treated, this damages the kidneys and cause kidney failure.

Here’s the dental connection. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology identified people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). After 10 years, they found that the death rate (for any reason) among those with both kidney and periodontal disease was higher (at 41 percent). The death rate in those with kidney disease but without periodontitis was lower (at 32 percent).

Another study done at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill included over 5,500 people. It found that those who had dental disease were much more likely to have reduced kidney function, which could eventually lead to kidney failure.

So, let’s summarize.

  • Your overall health impacts and is impacted by your oral.
  • Studies show a connection between the oral health disease, periodontitis and diabetes.
  • There may be an association between periodontal disease and liver disease.
  • Patients with a dental disease, such as periodontitis, are more likely to have reduced         kidney function.

If awareness and acceptance are the first two steps towards change, then taking action is the final part of the equation. Take extra care of your dental health, especially if you have diabetes. That means seeing your dentist every six months (or as often as needed) for checkups, cleanings, and whatever other dental services you may need. It means getting dental insurance so the cost of dental care isn’t expensive. It’s doing your part at home and brushing and flossing as often as your dentist recommends. It’s about maintaining one of the most invaluable things on the planet to you and your family…your health.


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