Periodontal disease is a dangerous disease that can cause inflammation, tooth loss, and gum tissue loss. But it doesn’t just stop there. It can also cause or contribute to many systemic diseases, including diabetes, dementia, arthritis, and a decline in kidney function.
Recently, a study was conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago to evaluate the connection between periodontal disease and kidney function in older Latino patients. This segment of the population experiences high instances of kidney function decline as they age, and doctors know that inflammation from gum disease is one potential cause of kidney function decline.
The study found that while there was no immediate connection between kidney health and periodontal health in the subjects of the study, the gingival pocket depth measured on subjects may still affect the function of kidneys.
After an average 5.9 year follow-up, patients with a recorded level three or higher detachment at the gum line had lower levels of eGFR (Estimated glomerular filtration) which measures kidney function. The higher the eGFR, the higher the kidney function. This means that those with deeper gingival pockets experienced lower kidney function as they aged.
While the study could not conclude that the lower eGFR was a direct cause of the deepened gingival pockets, it’s not worth the risk to be wrong. Caring for our teeth has been shown time and time again to be beneficial for our entire body, not just the mouth.
So, what can Latino’s and non-Latinos alike do to protect their kidneys and their gums? Brushing and flossing are your best bet. Brush your teeth twice per day, for at least two minutes each time, and floss between each tooth at least once per day. This will help prevent gum disease from developing and will keep the teeth clean and breath fresh. It will also prevent cavities and help reduce plaque buildup, and hopefully keep eGFR levels high and reduce the likelihood of kidney failure.
If you are concerned about your gum health or about any other aspect of your oral health, schedule an appointment and speak to Dr. Mingus today.