Common gum disease linked to chronic kidney problems

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In a new study, researchers found that an imbalance of the body’s oxygen-producing free radicals and its antioxidant cells could be the reason why gum disease and chronic kidney disease affect each other.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Birmingham.

Periodontitis—or gum disease—is a common, inflammatory disease that causes bleeding gums, wobbly or drifting teeth, and can eventually result in tooth loss.

Previous studies have shown a link between the severe oral inflammation caused by gum disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD) which demonstrated that those with worse inflammation of the gums have worse kidney function.

Research also showed that patients with CKD and periodontitis experience a drop in survival rates, similar in magnitude to if they had diabetes instead of gum inflammation, suggesting that gum inflammation may casually affect kidney function.

In the study, the team examined over 700 patients with chronic kidney disease using detailed oral and full-body examinations including blood samples.

Results showed that just a 10% increase in gum inflammation reduces kidney function by 3%.

In this group of patients, a 3% worsening in kidney function would translate to an increase in the risk of kidney failure over a 5 year period from 32%-34%.

Results also showed that a 10% reduction in kidney function increases periodontal inflammation by 25%.

The researchers also found the effect was caused by a biological process called ‘oxidative stress’—or, an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and the body’s antioxidant capacity which damages tissues on a cellular level.

This is the first paper to quantify the causal effect of periodontitis on kidney function and vice-versa as well as the first to elucidate the pathways involved.

One author of the study is  Dr. Praveen Sharma.

The study is published in Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

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