Poor Oral Health and Diabetic Children

A study funded by the Endocrine Foundation and Colgate-Palmolive has found that children with Type 2 diabetes tend to have poorer oral health than those who do not suffer from the disease. According to a recent article from UBNow, a publication out of the University of Buffalo, the study, the first of its kind, was published in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science.

Researchers analyzed data from three groups of children, all aged 10-19: 19 normal weight children, 14 obese children and 16 obese children with Type 2 diabetes. The data showed that poor oral health is more common in obese children with type 2 diabetes.

“We found a trend toward more periodontal disease in obese children with Type 2 diabetes,” said Lucy Mastrandrea, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. Mastrandrea is also a pediatric endocrinologist with UBMD Pediatrics and the senior author on the study.

The link between poor oral health and adults with diabetes has been studied at length and is widely acknowledged. Several studies have shown that oral inflammation is often detected in adults with diabetes, even at the prediabetes point. But research on the oral health of children with obesity or diabetes has not been done before.

“The most important finding of this research is that, like adults, children with Type 2 diabetes appear more vulnerable to periodontal inflammation than normal lean or obese children,” said co-author Frank A. Scannapieco, professor and chair of the Department of Oral Biology in the School of Dental Medicine. “It provides justification for the need for additional attention to oral hygiene in children with Type 2 diabetes,” he added.

“This is the first study to look at the salivary microbiome in pediatric populations,” said Mastrandrea. “We know that having inflammation anywhere in your body may influence your microbiome. At the same time, we know that having diabetes may influence your microbiome or, alternatively, that changes in the microbiome may increase your risk for diabetes.”

The next step, for Mastrandrea hopefully, is a longitudinal study exploring whether better dental care immediately following a diabetes diagnosis might help mitigate the trend toward more periodontal disease in children. She’s also interested in finding out if similar results would be found in children with Type 1 diabetes.

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