Gum Disease Linked to Anemia

A study published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that severe gum disease (periodontitis) may cause a reduction in red blood cells and hemoglobin, leading to the blood disorder anemia.

Researchers found that over a third of people suffering from severe gum disease had hemoglobin levels below normal concentrations. Following a six-month course of treatment to improve their oral health, all patients had improved levels of red blood cells, hemoglobin, and other clinical measures used to assess the health of the blood.

The research also suggested that women with severe gum disease had a higher risk of anemia than men- fewer than three in ten men had anemia, compared with over four in every ten women. Besides the well-known bacterial source of gum disease, the research also suggests that the defensive chemicals produced by the body as a result of inflammation of the gums can have the negative effect of lowering hemoglobin levels and other factors important to a healthy blood system.

The good news is that treatment of gum disease appears to have a positive effect on the severity of the anemia, especially in women. Treatment, even over a relatively short time frame of three to six months, improves hemoglobin levels and red blood cell counts.

Preventing or controlling gum disease is the key to avoiding problems. A simple oral health regimen consisting of brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing twice a day, good eating habits, consuming less sugary food and drinks, and regular dental check-ups can help prevent most dental problems.

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.