A new study from the University of Birmingham in England revealed that people with both chronic kidney disease and periodontitis (serious gum disease) face higher mortality rates than those with only chronic kidney disease.
A research paper, “Association between periodontitis and mortality in stages 3-5 chronic kidney disease: NHANES III and linked mortality study,” published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, highlights the list of evidence that poor oral health is linked with other chronic diseases.
The study analyzed a survival analysis using the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). Altogether 13,734 U.S. participants were assessed to demonstrate the 10-year all-cause mortality rate for patients who suffered from chronic kidney disease increased from 32 percent to 41 percent if the patient also suffered from periodontitis. For diabetes, the 10-year all-cause mortality rate increased to 43 percent if a patient also suffered from periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a chronic gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone under the gum, and affects 11.2 percent of the population worldwide. Other chronic diseases, such as kidney disease, occur more and more frequently, possibly due to aging and lifestyle. Currently, 92 percent of older people have at least one chronic disease, therefore the impact on healthcare costs cannot be overlooked.
Professor Iain Chapple, University of Birmingham, explained in a news release, “It’s important to note that oral health isn’t just about teeth. The mouth is the doorway to the body, rather than a separate organ, and is the access point for bacteria to enter the bloodstream via the gums. A lot of people with gum disease aren’t aware of it; perhaps they just have blood in their spit after brushing teeth, but this unchecked damage to gums then becomes a high-risk area for the rest of the body.”
Praveen Sharma, co-author of the study, said, “We are just beginning to scratch the surface of the interplay between gum disease and other chronic diseases, whether that be kidney disease, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. Knowing the heightened risk that gum disease presents to patients who already have another chronic disease tells us that oral health has a significant role to play in improving patient outcomes.”
The study concluded that the association between periodontitis and increased mortality in individuals with chronic kidney disease is significant, and chronic systemic inflammation, including periodontitis, can contribute to mortality rates of patients with chronic kidney disease. Now, researchers are further investigating this association to demonstrate whether treatment of gum diseases and the maintenance of oral health can improve the overall health in patients with kidney disease.
“It may be that the diagnosis of gum disease can provide an opportunity for early detection of other problems, whereby dental professionals could adopt a targeted, risk-based approach to screening for other chronic diseases,” sais Prof. Iain Chapple.