Gum Disease Treatment May Help People With Liver Disease
Oral care to treat gum disease, or periodontitis, can help reduce inflammation and toxins in the blood caused by cirrhosis of the liver, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.
Liver cirrhosis, the formation of scar tissue on the liver, can lead to serious complications, including liver failure, and is a growing health problem in the United States. Cirrhosis can cause infections throughout the body and a buildup of toxins in the brain, which can impair the ability to think. Previous studies have shown that changes in mouth and digestive tract bacteria (salivary and gut microbiota) in people with cirrhosis may lead to gum disease and a greater risk of complications.
For this study, researchers divided volunteers with cirrhosis and mild-to-moderate periodontitis into two groups: One group received periodontal care (teeth cleaning, removal of bacteria toxins from the mouth), and the other group was untreated. The researchers collected blood, saliva, and stool samples and performed standardized tests to measure cognitive function before and 30 days after the study period. They found increased levels of inflammation-reducing gut bacteria, lower levels of toxin-producing bacteria in saliva, and better cognitive function in study participants treated for gum disease.