The Kidney Disease and Gum Disease Connection

The issue of poor oral health status in chronic kidney disease patients apparently…indicates the need for closer collaboration between primary care physicians, nephrologists and dentists.” — Pakistan Journal of Medical Science

Ten years ago, medical scholars in Pakistan did research into the results of 120 studies that looked at the connection between chronic kidney disease (CKD) and gum disease. What they found is that while we cannot pinpoint a shared cause between the two diseases, or even conclusively determine that one causes the other, they definitely have a biconditional relationship. That means that each disease has the ability to worsen the other. Therefore, treating periodontal disease can improve the outcomes of patients with chronic kidney disease.

Inflammation is Involved in Both

Treating periodontal disease could be one factor that might decrease the systemic inflammatory burden and thereby improve quality of life of these patients.” — Pakistan Journal of Medical Science

Inflammation is one of the primary side effects of gum disease. When your normally pink gums turn bright red, that is a sign of inflammation. Inflammation in one part of the body leads to changes in the blood contents and can lead to inflammation in other parts of the body, especially in the blood vessels. Inflammation in the blood vessels is a primary factor in the development of kidney diseases. When inflammation spreads throughout the body in this manner it is called systemic inflammation, as mentioned in the quote above.

On the other hand, patients with CKD often require hemodialysis, and many patients on dialysis have beyond average indicators of gum disease. This may be due to the fact that side effects of CKD include damage to the tooth enamel, changes in saliva contents, and xerostomia, or dry mouth. Strong tooth enamel is obviously important for the long-term health of the teeth. The chemistry of the saliva plays an important role in the self-repair of tooth enamel and the control of bacteria. And with dry mouth, there is not enough saliva to cleanse the teeth and gums while promoting the remineralization of the tooth enamel.

Changes in oral health are so common in CKD patients that the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology even states: “CKD patients exhibit oral manifestations, recognition of which is important since they may be indicators of the presence or extent of the disease.” Doctors are therefore encouraged to study the conditions in the mouth to help diagnose kidney disease, determine an appropriate treatment, and to create a prognosis for the patient.

Treating Gum Disease Improved Systemic Inflammation

The most important aspect of the biconditional nature of CKD and gum disease is that improving oral health can likewise improve overall health for kidney and hemodialysis patients. The study explains that “non-surgical periodontal therapy has been indicated to decrease the systemic inflammatory burden in patients with CKD, especially those undergoing [hemodialysis] therapy.” Therefore, the dentists at the Placerville Dental Group encourage all of our patients with chronic kidney disease to pay close attention to their oral health! Reducing the inflammation caused by gum disease can help reduce inflammation throughout your body. To find out more, contact our staff and make an appointment at your earliest opportunity.

Dec 8, 2022 | Gum disease, Oral Health


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