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Could dental health and kidney function be connected?
Updated: 6/10/2013 11:59:58 AM
 

Could dental health and kidney function be connected?

Over the past few years, there have been many studies that have shed light on the association between dental health and other parts of the body. For example, the Mayo Clinic states that endocarditis - a condition where bacteria from other parts of the body damages the heart - could be connected to dental care issues. Now, scientists are finding that there may be other organs in the body that are affected by problems stemming from the mouth - specifically, the kidneys. 

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, explained that gum disease is the result of a persistent infection in the mouth that causes inflammation. This inflammation is what impacts the heart as bacteria travels through the bloodstream and reaches this organ, and the kidneys may be at a similar risk

Examining the connection
The scientists are planning on launching a study that is the first of its kind, and will track the function of the kidneys of patients being treated for periodontal disease. All individuals in the study will have both gum disease and kidney problems, and the researchers will work to determine if kidney problems are exacerbated by dental issues. Two-thirds of the participants will get regular periodontal care, while the rest will only receive treatment for their gum disease if it is medically necessary. 

The study will be led by Vanessa Grubbs, M.D., an assistant professor and neprology specialist in the UC San Francisco School of Medicine, who said that she hopes this study will impact both the dental health community and the healthcare industry as a whole.

"If we at least start to show that treating periodontal disease can slow the progression of kidney disease, the long-term ramifications for dental policy and how we manage patients with chronic kidney disease are huge," said Grubbs in a statement. 

Tips for kidney health
This study may find that taking proper care of teeth and gums could help keep the kidneys healthy, but there are things people can do now that are good for these organs. The National Kidney Disease Education Program recommends that people cut down on the amount of salt they eat if they want their kidneys to stay healthy, and aim for less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. They should also get urine tests regularly to help check their kidney function. Finally, people should properly manage any chronic conditions they have to make sure they do not negatively impact the kidneys. 

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