Research shows that a lot of serious medical conditions increase the risk of other health problems. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an increasing problem in the United States, and more than 20 million people currently suffer with some form of the illness. Research increasingly suggests that some people are more susceptible to CKD than others, and studies show that periodontal (gum) disease is one common risk factor. Learn more about the link between CKD and gum disease, and find out what you can do to protect your health.
About chronic kidney disease
Some kidney problems occur more quickly than others. For example, an acute kidney injury can result in a sudden problem with kidney function and is sometimes fatal. Chronic kidney disease occurs where the kidney function worsens over time. Technically, a doctor will diagnose CKD when the patient's kidney filtration rate drops below a certain level (60 milliliters per minute) for more than three months or when the ratio of albumin and creatine becomes seriously imbalanced.
Some types of people are at higher risk of CKD than others. High-risk groups include:
- People aged 60 and above
- People who are obese
- People with diabetes or heart disease
CKD is a serious health issue in the United States. For example, people without the condition are more likely to survive a heart attack than those with advanced CKD.
What research suggests
Several studies have shown a link between periodontal disease, oral health and chronic kidney disease.
A 2008 study at the Case Western Reserve University investigated the link between periodontal health and kidney disease. The study involved a group of more than 4,000 participants, and found that edentulous (or toothless) people were more likely to have CKD than their dentate peers.
More recently, a University of California study also saw an increased risk of kidney disease where people suffered from gum problems. The 2015 study focused on 699 African-Americans (already a high-risk group) and tracked the participants' health for just under 5 years. Overall, the study found that patients with gum disease were four times more likely to suffer from CKD.
Scientists are not yet sure exactly why gum disease increases the risk of CKD. Some researchers believe that the chronic inflammation that periodontal disease causes could somehow exacerbate the inflammatory symptoms of CKD.
How CKD treatment can affect your dental health
Ironically, some of the treatment options that CKD patients face can worsen their oral health symptoms. For example, dialysis (a mechanical process that cleans your blood) can create a bad taste and smell in your mouth. These symptoms occur because the kidneys don't break down urea in the blood, which, in turn, forms ammonia.
People with CKD can also suffer with bone problems. CKD makes it harder for the body to absorb calcium, which weakens the bones. In some cases, CKD patients experience loose teeth and problems with their jawbones.
Developing a treatment plan with your dentist
It's very important to discuss all health issues with your dentist at a place like the Claremont Dental Institute. He or she needs to know if you are at risk of other problems, so you should share details of any conditions that your doctor has diagnosed. For example, your dentist needs to understand if you are taking any medications for CKD, as drugs that he or she prescribes as part of your dental treatment could metabolize with your kidney disease medicines. In some cases, dental drugs can build up in the body and cause problems with dialysis.
The threat of CKD is also another strong reason to keep up an excellent dental hygiene, especially if you are in a high-risk group. Regular visits to the dentist, twice daily brushing and daily flossing can all cut the risk of periodontal disease. In turn, this dental health regime could cut your risk of CKD.
Research shows an increasingly strong link between dental health problems and chronic kidney disease. If you are at risk of CKD, talk to your dentist for advice about how you can protect your teeth and avoid serious kidney problems.