Dentists have long been aware of a connection between periodontal disease and cirrhosis. At Dr. Lis Bradley’s dental office, we want patients to be aware that they can improve their health through better dental care, which is why we’re excited by new evidence that treating gum disease can alleviate some of cirrhosis’s effects.
Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver. It causes inflammation throughout the body and diminished cognitive ability. Scarred livers also have a harder time fighting off infections. Both cirrhosis and advanced gum disease can result from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. But some studies have found that people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease also have higher rates of periodontal disease.
Recently, scientists carried out an experiment to determine whether people with cirrhosis improved after undergoing treatment for gum infections. They found that the people who were treated did produce more of the bacteria that reduce inflammation and were able to think more clearly. It is unclear why gum treatments would improve liver function, although scientists have proposed that people without gum disease are less likely to inhale harmful bacteria. Regardless, a fresher, less painful mouth can certainly improve the morale of people fighting chronic illnesses.