An imbalance of the body's oxygen-producing free radicals and its antioxidant cells might be the rationale why gum disease and chronic renal disorder affect one another, a replacement study led by the University of Birmingham has found.
Previous studies have shown a link between the severe oral inflammation caused by gum disease and chronic renal disorder (CKD) which demonstrated that those with worse inflammation of the gums have worse kidney function.
Previous research also showed that patients with CKD and periodontitis experience a drop in survival rates, similar in magnitude of having diabetes rather than gum inflammation, suggesting that gum inflammation may casually affect kidney function.
In this latest study, led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, over 700 patients with chronic renal disorder were examined using detailed oral and full-body examinations including blood samples. The aim was to check the hypothesis that periodontal inflammation and kidney function affect one another and to determine the underlying mechanism which will facilitate this.
Results showed that just a tenth increase in gum inflammation reduces kidney function by 3%. Within this group of patients, a third of the worsening in kidney function would translate to a rise within the risk of renal failure over a 5 year period from 32%-34%. Results also showed that a tenth reduction in kidney function increases periodontal inflammation by 25%.
In contrast to current beliefs that inflammation is that the link between periodontitis and other systemic diseases, researchers found for the first time, that during this group of patients, the effect was caused by an organic process called 'oxidative stress'—or, an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and therefore the body's antioxidant capacity which damages tissues on a cellular level.
Lead author Dr. Praveen Sharma, from the Periodontal Research Group at the University of Birmingham's School of Dentistry, said, "This is that the first paper to quantify the causal effect of periodontitis on kidney function and vice-versa also the first to elucidate the pathways involved.
"It showed that even a modest reduction in gum inflammation can benefit renal function. Given that it is relatively simple achieving the tenth reduction in gum inflammation, through simple measures like correct brushing techniques and cleaning between the teeth, these results are very interesting.
"We hope that this research paves the way for further studies to ascertain if improvements in kidney function, following periodontal care, translate to a longer, healthier life for patients with chronic renal disorder. We also hope that the hypothesis we've identified might be tested in other groups."
Source: Medical Express