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Study: Oral health, sarcopenia and diabetes mellitus


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A recent study has suggested that improving the oral health of community-dwelling older adults in rural Japan could prevent sarcopenia and diabetes. (Image: beeboys/Shutterstock)
Iveta Ramonaite, Dental Tribune International

By Iveta Ramonaite, Dental Tribune International

Wed. 18. August 2021


ONAN, Japan: Maintaining good oral health has many benefits, including those pertaining to systemic health. For example, a few studies have already addressed the link between oral health, sarcopenia and diabetes. However, since evidence is scarce and results often inconsistent, researchers from Japan have examined whether deteriorating oral health could lead to loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength or hyperglycaemia. They found that poor oral health is associated with both sarcopenia and diabetes.

The cross-sectional research was part of the Shimane CoHRE (Center for Community-Based Healthcare Research and Education) study, which was conducted between June and July 2017 by Shimane University in Matsue in Japan and used the data gained from the Japanese annual health examination programme. It involved 635 adults between 40 and 74 yearsof age living in the rural town of Onan in the west of Japan.

To further explore the relationship between oral health, diabetes and sarcopenia, the researchers assessed the participants’ masticatory function and counted the number of remaining teeth to establish oral health status. Regarding sarcopenia status, handgrip strength, skeletal muscle index, calf circumference and a possible sarcopenia diagnosis were assessed. To screen the participants for diabetes, the researchers measured the levels of serum haemoglobin A1c levels.

After adjusting for all confounders, the researchers found that a low level of masticatory function and a reduced number of remaining teeth were significantly associated with a decline in handgrip strength, possible sarcopenia and higher odds of developing diabetes. Thus, the researchers suggested that improving the oral health of older adults could help prevent both sarcopenia and diabetes.

The study, titled “Number of teeth and masticatory function are associated with sarcopenia and diabetes mellitus status among community-dwelling older adults: A Shimane CoHRE study”, was published online on 2 June 2021 in PLOS ONE.

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