Previous studies show a link between severe oral inflammation caused by gum disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Those who have worse inflammation of the gums may have worse kidney function.
An imbalance between the body’s oxygen-producing free radicals and its antioxidant cells could be the main reason. In the case of periodontitis it produces bleeding gums, teeth that wobble or drift and eventually result in tooth loss.
Research also shows that patients with chronic kidney disease and periodontitis may experience declines in survival rates much the same as if they had diabetes.
The study by researchers at the University of Birmingham examined more than 700 patients with chronic kidney disease through detailed oral and full-body examinations.
The intention was to test the hypothesis that periodontal inflammation and kidney function affect each other. Just a 10% increase in gum inflammation reduces kidney function by 3%.
If there is a 3% worsening of kidney function it would translate into an increased risk of kidney failure over a 5-year period from 32% to 34%. A 10% reduction in kidney function was also shown to increase periodontal inflammation by 25%.
The effect was caused by a biological process called ‘oxidative stress’, or an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and the body’s antioxidant capacity that damages tissues at the cellular level.
Lead author Dr Praveen Sharma, from the Periodontal Research Group at the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry, said this is the first paper to quantify the incidental effect of periodontitis on kidney function and vice versa, as well as the first to elucidate the pathways involved.
The relative ease of achieving a 10% reduction in gum inflammation can be prevented with measures such as correct brushing and cleaning techniques between the teeth.
“We hope that this research will pave the way for more studies to see if improvements in kidney function, following periodontal care, translate into longer, healthier lives for patients with chronic kidney disease. We also hope that we hypothesize that we have identified it can be tested in other groups “, they conclude in the study.
With information from the University of Birmingham and Medical Xpress.