Dental health and the ability to chew properly may help improve blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes patients, a new study has found.

Researchers determined that Type 2 diabetes patients with full chewing function have considerably lower blood sugar levels compared to patients with reduced chewing function.

Based on the findings published in the journal PLOS ONE, Mehmet A. Eskan, a co-author of the study from the University at Buffalo, advised medical professionals who treat patients with Type 2 diabetes to examine their patients' teeth.

Eskan and another researcher, Yeter E. Bayram, evaluated the association between mastication inefficiency due to reduced occlusal support and blood glucose control in patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Occlusal support refers to the way teeth line up to form a bite and contact with one another to help in efficient food chewing.

The retrospective study evaluated 94 patients with Type 2 diabetes at an outpatient clinic in a hospital in Istanbul, Turkey. The control group consisted of patients who had strong occlusal support, while the test group had difficulties chewing due to missing part or all of their teeth.

The blood sugar level of the control group was 7.48, while the test group had 9.42.

"This retrospective study showed that inefficient mastication due to diminished occlusal support was associated with poor control of blood glucose levels among T2D subjects. Glycemic control was poorly maintained in T2D subjects missing posterior occlusal support or using a removable denture. To our knowledge, this is the first study to clarify the association between occlusal support and controlling A1c in patients with T2D," the researchers wrote.

What Happens When Food Gets Chewed?

Digestion starts in the mouth. When a portion of food gets chewed, it reduces the size of the food and activates the salivary glands to secrete more saliva. Saliva contains enzymes like amylase and lipase that help break down carbohydrates and fats.

Mastication also triggers the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach that regulates the pH levels which aids in digestion.

What Are the Benefits of Chewing Food?

Experts advise chewing for an average of 32 times before swallowing so that food breaks down and loses its texture.

It is also associated with the following benefits:

  • Chewing food reduces the chances of choking and aspiration.
  • Chewing more slows down the pace of eating and can help reduce food intake.
  • Fiber is an important nutrient that helps to reduce blood glucose levels. It is obtained mainly through chewing the right kind of food.
  • Chewing food helps reduce problems such as gas, bloating, constipation and headaches.
  • When the food is chewed well, it helps in the absorption of a greater amount of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
  • Chewing reduces the risk of bacterial overgrowth and increased fermentation in the gut.
Eating woman
Experts advise chewing for an average of 32 times before swallowing so that food breaks down and loses its texture. Pixabay