Periodontitis Ups Death Risk for Patients with Kidney Disease

Periodontitis is nearly as dangerous as diabetes for patients with chronic kidney disease, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

In this large, longitudinal study, researchers studied 861 study participants with chronic kidney disease over an average period of about 14 years. They found that when the individuals had periodontitis, all-cause mortality increased from 32% to 41%. Interestingly, this was a similar increase in risk for chronic kidney disease patients with diabetes.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, chronic kidney disease is a condition “characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function over time” that is often cost by diabetes and high blood pressure. Several studies have also determined that periodontal disease increases risk for kidney disease—a risk that is quadrupled in African Americans. This increase in risk, according to researchers, is likely the product of increased systemic inflammation that accompanies oral infection and inflammation.

The relationship does not stop there, however: Kidney disease has also been shown to lead to oral problems like dry mouth, which can contribute to periodontal disease.

It appears undeniable that oral health plays a substantial role in the health and quality of life of those suffering with chronic kidney disease, and according to Iain Chapple—professor at the University of Birmingham, where this study took place—the dental team can and should play a large role in the early detection of these chronic diseases:

“It may be that the diagnosis of gum disease can provide an opportunity early detection of other problems, whereby dental professionals could adopt a targeted, risk-based approach to screening for other chronic diseases.”

It is very common for patients to see their dental team more often than any other healthcare professional, and with that comes a tremendous opportunity for an oral approach to disease prevention and wellness.

Source: Association between periodontitis and mortality in stages 3–5 chronic kidney disease: NHANES III and linked mortality study