Survey: Gum Disease Puts Patients with Kidney Failure at More Risk

Nairobi, Kenya – If you suffer from both gum and chronic kidney disease, then your chances of survival are three times less compared to someone who has chronic disease alone.

This is according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology that shows chronic kidney disease patients and periodontitis (severe gum disease) have a higher mortality rate than those with chronic kidney disease alone.

The research, which was carried out by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, alleges that individuals with both periodontitis and chronic kidney disease had an all-cause mortality rate of 41 per cent at ten years, compared to 32 per cent for those with chronic kidney disease alone.

Periodontitis is a chronic gum disease that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone supporting the teeth. In its most severe form, it is ranked the sixth most prevalent human disease, affecting 11.2 per cent of the world’s population. It has also been linked to childhood arthritis.

The research published February 18 analysed data from 13,734 patients in the US-based Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Chronic non-communicable diseases such as kidney failure were noted to be on an increase possibly due to the bulging ageing population and lifestyle changes.

“Their impact upon the global disease burden and health care economy is significant, and evidence suggests that 92 per cent of older adults have at least one chronic disease,” read the survey.

Co-author of the survey Praveen Sharma said that the findings are just the surface of the interrelation between gum disease and other chronic ailments: “Knowing the heightened risk that gum disease presents to patients who already have another chronic disease tells us that oral health has a significant role to play in improving patient outcomes.”

According to the first dental survey by the Ministry of Health-Kenya National Oral Health Report 2015, the prevalence of dental caries among the adult population stood at 34 per cent. Gingival bleeding is the most common exhibited in 98 per cent of the adult population. Low uptake of dental insurance packages (12 per cent) was noted as the major challenge.

At least one out of every ten Kenyans is suffering from some form of kidney disease, with 10,000 people dying annually. Kenya Renal Association projects this number to rise by 17 per cent in ten years’ time. – Graham Kajilwa