Gum disease linked with mental illness and heart conditions, study finds

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Periodontal disease appears to be linked with an increased risk of developing chronic illnesses, according to a new study from the University of Birmingham.

The study, published in BMJ Open, sought to identify the relationship between periodontal diseases, gingivitis and periodontitis, and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases, autoimmune diseases, and mental illnesses.

Researchers matched 64,379 patients with a general practitioner recorded diagnosis of periodontal disease to 251,161 unexposed patients by sex, age, deprivation, and registration date. The average age of the participants was 45 years, and the median follow-up time was approximately three years.

From the research, the team determined that those patients with a recorded history of periodontal disease at the start of the study were more likely to go on and be diagnosed with one of these additional conditions over an average of three years, compared to those in the cohort without periodontal disease at the beginning of the research.

According to the study, the results showed that patients with a recorded history of periodontal disease at the start of the observation, were 37 percent more likely to be at risk in developing a mental illness, 33 percent more likely to develop an autoimmune disease, and 18 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular disease. For those same participants, their risk of having a cardiometabolic disorder increased by seven percent, with an even higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes at 26 percent.

“An important implication of our findings is the need for effective communication between dental and other healthcare professionals to ensure patients obtain an effective treatment plan targeting both oral and wider health to improve their existing overall health and reduce the risk of future illness,” said Krish Nirantharakumar, MD, co-senior author of the study and professor of Health Data Science and Public Health at the University of Birmingham.