Children with diabetes may develop their permanent teeth earlier than normal, which could increase their risk of dental problems, according to findings published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
Researchers found that 10- to 14-year-olds with diabetes tended to have their permanent teeth come in earlier than their peers did. Such accelerated tooth "eruptions" raise the odds of misaligned or "crowded" teeth–which, in addition to cosmetic effects, can make it harder to clean the teeth and keep the gums healthy.
It's not yet clear whether children with diabetes have more dental problems, lead researcher Dr. Shantanu Lal of Columbia University Medical Center in New York told Reuters Health. He and his colleagues are finishing up a study to answer that question.
For now, Lal said, the findings underscore the importance of regular dental checkups for children with diabetes.
The study looked at children 6 to 14 years old—270 with diabetes (mostly type 1) and 320 without diabetes. The researchers found that among children age 10 and up, those with diabetes were more likely to have teeth in an "advanced stage of eruption."
According to Lal's team, the reasons for the speedier tooth eruption may have to do with gum inflammation, which tends to be greater in children with diabetes. Gum inflammation may diminish the mass of the bones supporting the teeth, shortening the distance that developing teeth must progress to break through the gums.
Pediatrics, May 2008