As the evidence linking gum disease to other inflammatory health conditions continues to mount, even conventional dentistry is starting to acknowledge the truth of the mouth-body connection.
Cardiovascular disease. Stroke. Diabetes. Alzheimer’s. Rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic liver disease. Kidney disease. Cancer. All these have been found to have a relationship with the health of the soft tissues of the mouth.
Now a couple of studies presented at the recent meeting of the International Association of Dental Research in London are casting new light on the connection between kidney and oral health.
The first study investigated the possible impact of periodontitis – severe gum disease – on kidney function in 770 patients with chronic kidney disease. Their periodontal pockets were measured. Their renal function was assessed. A regression analysis was done to determine potential pathways between periodontitis and renal health.
Here we confirm, using [structural equation models], our causal hypothesis that, in this large, well characterised cohort, a decline in periodontal health results in a decline in kidney function via an increase in oxidative stress burden. If periodontal treatment can reverse systemic oxidative stress, future patients may have differing treatment pathways depending on their periodontal health status. This, however, remains to be determined. [emphasis added]
Indeed, earlier research has suggested that periodontal treatment may lower the overall inflammatory burden of patients with chronic kidney disease.
The second study aimed to find “the degree of association between measures of dental and periodontal health with progression of renal function.” Here, 300 patients with chronic kidney disease were evaluated. Full medical and dental exams were conducted for each patient. Both renal function and periodontal status were assessed.
The “population with CKD [chronic kidney disease],” the researchers found,
presented with substantial oral treatment needs. Measures of poor periodontal health predicted a worsening in renal function as assessed by eGFR over 5 years in patients with CKD.
As noted, periodontal treatment may help ease symptoms not only of kidney disease but other health problems marked by chronic inflammation. And taking good care of of your gums now may lower your risk of developing inflammatory conditions.
While more research needs to be done to confirm this, there’s certainly no harm in taking a proactive approach to your oral health – from eating real (not fake, hyperprocessed) food to practicing good home hygiene, drinking plenty of water to managing stress, getting plenty of sleep to making physical activity a key part of each day.
Both your mouth and body will thank you.