New Study Finds Poor Oral Health May Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. oral hygiene / ˈɔr əl ˈhaɪ dʒin / (n) – the practice of keeping the mouth clean

    Little kids should be taught about good oral hygiene from an early age.

  2. antibody / ˈæn tɪˌbɒd i / (n) – a substance that the body produces to fight disease-causing bacteria or viruses

    Some people who have serious health problems do not produce enough antibodies to fight disease.

  3. metabolism / məˈtæb əˌlɪz əm / (n) – the process by which plants or animals turn food and water into energy

    People with faster metabolisms burn food more quickly, so they are less likely to gain weight.

  4. gut / gʌt / (n) – an animal’s stomach or belly

    The scientists found plastic in the turtle’s gut.

  5. correlate / ˈkɔr əˌleɪt / (v) – to have a very close relationship or connection so that a change in one causes a change in the other

    The study correlated lack of sleep with mental health problems.


Read the text below.

A team of researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University has found that poor oral hygiene may lead to metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood, obesity, and high blood pressure. Its complications include the possibility of developing diabetes, heart disease, or having a stroke. In the new study, the researchers discovered how people with gum disease become more prone to developing this condition.

Kazuki Watanabe, the lead author of the study, said that the team wanted to investigate the relationship between the bacteria that causes gum disease and metabolic syndrome. To find out how the bacteria is connected to metabolic syndrome, the researchers examined blood samples from respondents who have the condition. They checked the patients’ blood for antibodies that indicate that a person has had a gum infection. The researchers found that the antibodies were likely to be present in patients who were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

To understand exactly how the bacteria affects metabolism, the researchers also experimented on mice. They found that the bacteria can cause metabolic syndrome by changing the composition of microorganisms in the gut. These changes make it hard for the body to detect and use sugar in the blood, which may eventually lead to diabetes and other complications.

Professor Sayaka Katagiri, one author of the study, said that the findings were impressive because they provided a clearer illustration of how gum infections correlate with metabolic syndrome. Previously, it was unclear exactly how gum infections cause weight gain and other complications.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the study will motivate people to change their oral hygiene habits? Why or why not?
• What can people do to help spread awareness about the more serious effects of poor oral hygiene? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why do you think some people have poor hygiene habits? Discuss.
• Do you think the pandemic will greatly affect how often people visit their dentists? Why or why not?