Gum Disease Linked to Mortality Rate in Cirrhosis Patients

Seaside dental care

When it comes to receiving Seaside dental care, a new study suggests that severe gum disease and advanced cirrhosis are two conditions that don’t go very well with each other.

A recent prospective analysis of patients suffering from both periodontitis and cirrhosis found more severe forms of gum disease were linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, found the results of researchers from Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital.

The association was even more compelling when researchers examined only the deaths related to cirrhosis, reported researchers at the 2017 International Liver Congress.

The study found that severe periodontitis strongly predicted a higher mortality rate in patients with cirrhosis. Researchers believe this connection may be due to gum disease acting as a source for pathogens that cause inflammation and increase the complications linked to cirrhosis.

Fortunately, since periodontitis can be treated, researchers are hopeful that the possibility exists for health care providers to intervene and prevent the increased mortality risk.

“We hope that our findings motivate more trial on this subjects,” says the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Lea Ladegaard Grønkjaer.

Exploring the Connection

While discovering the connection between these two conditions can lead to an increased risk of death is important, it’s just the initial step for researchers.

Additional studies are now needed to determine if improving gum health can also improve outcomes in patients with liver cirrhosis.

Periodontitis is a common condition in European adults, with 35 percent of the adult population suffering from the disease, of which 15 percent have severe periodontitis. The prevalence of the disease is even higher in the U.S., as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all adults over the age of 30 suffer from some form of gum disease.

A number of studies have previously linked periodontitis with a variety of chronic long-term illnesses such as respiratory disease, diabetes, dementia, kidney disease, and heart disease. Furthermore, poor oral health is highly common among patients suffering from cirrhosis.

To further examine this issue, Grønkjaer and her colleagues enlisted 184 cirrhosis patients who then had the current state of their oral health assessed. Of those examined, 44 percent were diagnosed with severe periodontitis.

There were some significant differences between the patients with severe cases of the disease and those who suffered with less severe or no disease:

  • Patients with severe cases of periodontitis were more likely to have their cirrhosis caused by alcoholism, while those participants with less severe forms of gum disease were more likely to have an autoimmune disease as the cause of the cirrhosis.
  • Patients with severe cases of gum disease were more likely to be current or former smokers and less likely to have never smoked.

In total, patients were followed for over 74,000 days, or an average of 350 days per patient. During that period, 44 percent of the study participants died.

Researchers concluded that patients with severe periodontitis were more likely to die for any reason, with an increased risk of 1.56 times as likely of death.

When researchers adjusted their findings to include for known risk factors such as age, sex, cause of cirrhosis, and alcohol and tobacco use, an individual’s mortality rate was slightly lower at 1.45 times as likely.

However, the association was even stronger when the cause of death was limited to cirrhosis, where they discovered an increased mortality rate of between 2.19 and 2.29 as likely.

Protecting Your Oral Health

Once again, the need to receive regular Seaside dental care is proven paramount for individuals looking to protect their long-term oral and overall health. By scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings, combined with brushing and flossing daily, you can significantly lower your risk for gum disease and a number of chronic, potentially life-threatening conditions.

Don’t make the mistake of taking your oral health for granted no matter the condition of your overall health. Take the time to receive the dental care you need by scheduling your next appointment with our team at Seaside Family Dentistry.