Study author Nabil Bissada hopes to make periodontal treatment a standard part of treating prostate disease, much like cardiac patients are often encouraged to visit their dentist before undergoing heart procedures and a dental checkup is advised for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy. (Credit: iStockphoto)

gum disease

Prostate trouble? Go to the dentist

Treating gum disease can reduce symptoms of prostate inflammation, called prostatitis, report researchers.

Previous studies have found a link between gum disease and prostatitis, a disease that inflames the gland that produces semen. Inflammation can make urination difficult.

“This study shows that if we treat the gum disease, it can improve the symptoms of prostatitis and the quality of life for those who have the disease,” says Nabil Bissada, chair of Case Western Reserve’s periodontics department and the new study’s corresponding author.

Bissada explains that gum disease affects the mouth, but is also a system-wide condition that can cause inflammation in various parts of the body. The dental school has previously found a link between gum disease and fetal deaths, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease.

Researchers studied 27 men, 21 years old and older. Each had a needle biopsy within the past year that confirmed inflammation of the prostate gland, and a blood test that showed elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels—possible signs of inflammation and cancer.

The men were assessed for symptoms of prostate disease by answering questions on the International-Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) test about their quality of life and possible urination issues.

Researchers found 21 of the 27 participants had no or mild inflammation, but 15 had biopsy-confirmed malignancies. Two had both inflammation and a malignancy.

The men also had to have at least 18 teeth and were examined for signs of gum disease, such as increased levels of inflammation and bleeding and/or loose teeth due to attachment and bone loss.

All the men had moderate to severe gum disease, for which they received treatment. They were tested again for periodontal disease four to eight weeks later and showed significant improvement.

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During the periodontal care, the men received no treatment for their prostate conditions. But even without prostate treatment, 21 of the 27 men showed decreased levels of PSA. Those with the highest levels of inflammation benefited the most from the periodontal treatment. Six participants showed no changes.

Symptom scores on the IPSS test also showed improvement.

Bissada is now conducting follow-up research to support the first study’s findings. He hopes to make periodontal treatment a standard part of treating prostate disease, much like cardiac patients are often encouraged to visit their dentist before undergoing heart procedures and a dental checkup is advised for women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Dentistry.

Source: Case Western Reserve University

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