Study suggests that regular brushing of the teeth can help diabetics maintain better glycemic control

July 8, 2023

Study suggests that regular brushing of the teeth can help diabetics maintain better glycemic control

According to a recent study, people with Type 2 diabetes who regularly brush their teeth have better glycemic control and oral health outcomes.

A number of doctors at the American Dental Association and MedStar Diabetes Institute conducted a systematic scoping review of 11 studies, including survey-based studies that looked for links between brushing and improved oral health or glycemic control and studies with an interventional component intended to enhance at-home oral care.

Dr. Lipman said that “there are two important takeaways from this work. The first is that the data suggests that regular toothbrushing, the very bedrock of home oral hygiene, not only improves the oral health of people with Type 2 diabetes, but also improves control of their blood sugar levels.”

Participants who said they brushed their teeth more frequently in each survey under review reported having better glycemic control. Better clinician-conducted oral health measures, such as less bleeding on probing, less gingival crevicular fluid, smaller periodontal pocket depth, less calculus buildup, less tooth decay, and a lower risk of periodontal disease, were frequently associated with more frequent brushing.

“The second takeaway is that helping people improve their toothbrushing takes more than just talking at them about toothbrushing, and the message for dentists is that lifestyle behavior change is difficult, so if dentists want to help their patients with Type 2 diabetes improve their oral hygiene, it is necessary to coach and motivate them rather than simply educate them about toothbrushing.”

In the interventional studies that were part of the review, oral health coaching was linked to a greater improvement in glycemic control and toothbrushing behavior than oral health education. The review does point out that more research is required to fully understand how oral health coaching might enhance the wellbeing of those with Type 2 diabetes.


Ruth D. Lipman, Kelly K. O’Brien, Joan K. Bardsley, Michelle F. Magee; A Scoping Review of the Relation Between Toothbrushing and Diabetes Knowledge, Glycemic Control, and Oral Health Outcomes in People With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Spectr 2023; ds220089.

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