Periodontitis doesn’t normally come alone!
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
As early as 2016 (Monsarrat et al. 2016), a study outlined a link between periodontitis and 57(!) systemic diseases, the most well-known of these being diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. Time and again, these links prompt a discussion about the need for positive cooperation between dentists and doctors in order to improve early diagnosis of specific systemic diseases.
In connection with this, a Chinese research group (Zhao et al. 2022) recently published a very interesting study. They recruited 115 participants, who all stated that they were healthy, as part of a cross-sectional study. The periodontal status of all the participants was determined and they were subjected to 20 medical tests in order to be able to diagnose the following 8 frequent systemic diseases/conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Prediabetes/diabetes mellitus
- Reduced kidney function
- Cardiovascular problems
- Stomach ulcer
- Lipid metabolism disorder
- Hyperuricaemia (elevated uric acid level)
The results were alarming but interesting at the same time. 98% of participants were found to have at least one of the 8 diseases/conditions listed above and 48% of participants had 6 or more abnormal test results. Generalized stage III or IV periodontitis was also diagnosed in around 43% of participants. The participants with generalized stage III or IV periodontitis were statistically three times more likely to have six or more abnormal test results. Where participants were found to have multiple systemic diseases/conditions, the percentage of those with stage IV periodontitis also increased. Specifically, 27, 33, 57 and 58% of those participants with 1–2, 3–4, 5–6 and 7–8 undiagnosed systemic diseases/conditions also had stage IV periodontitis.
This study once again proved that dentists and doctors need to work closely together and that dental health professionals can play a key role in providing information and early diagnosis. We should not ‘just’ focus on teeth but should make our patients aware of the potential links between the health of the mouth and the rest of the body. We can also regularly encourage them to actually go for standard check-ups/health checks with their doctors – something that is particularly important in the case of patients with periodontitis.
- Monsarrat P, Blaizot A, Kémoun P, et al. Clinical research activity in periodontal medicine: a systematic mapping of trial registers. J Clin Periodontol. 2016;43:390-400. Zhao D, Wu M-Z, Yu SY, Pelekos G, Yiu KH, Jin L. Periodontitis links to concurrent systemic comorbidities among ‘self-perceived health’ individuals. J Periodont Res. 2022;57:632–643.