They say your mouth is the window to your overall health, and with a mountain of evidence linking your oral health to other health conditions, it’s hard not to agree. Oral health has been linked to several chronic health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and now kidney disease. While the direct relationship between oral health and other body ailments is not clearly understood, it’s important to acknowledge the link and continue to work towards a more complete picture.
Recently, researchers from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom published a study involving work with patients suffering from chronic kidney disease in relation to gum disease, or periodontitis. Led by professor in periodontology, Iain Chapple, the team analyzed data from 13,734 people living in the United States who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. According to a recent article from Medical News Today, the researchers found that 861, or 6% of the participants had chronic kidney disease and were followed for about 14 years. They then assessed the links between periodontitis and mortality in people with chronic kidney disease with startling results. The scientists were able to conclude that the patients suffering from both chronic kidney disease and severe gum disease had a greater risk of death than those suffering from chronic kidney disease alone.
Almost 50% of US adults aged 30 years and older have some form of gum disease, many of which don’t even know it. That number continues to increase as the population ages, with 70% of people aged 65 or older suffering from periodontitis. The disease, which is a non-communicable gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth, can be very serious if left untreated. And with kidney disease and other non-communicable diseases becoming more common worldwide, scientists are tirelessly searching for ways to treat, and even prevent, them.
“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,” Chapple said.