Gum disease and Psoriasis share a familiar parent: inflammation. But does that mean one can cause the other? Scientists are trying narrow down an answer, and people with periodontitis are 1.5 times more likely to develop psoriasis. Does disease may play a part? And, what you can do to protect your gums in general? After all, they play a large part in your overall health!
Does Psoriasis contribute to bone loss in the oral cavity? Possibly. Since both periodontitis and psoriasis are the result of an “exaggerated immune response to the microbiota residing at the epithelial surface,” scientists are have been searching for possible connections, and turning up some interesting parallels, including a greater degree of bone loss in psoriatic arthritis patients. But the research is just beginning, and more studies need to be conducted that take a variety of lifestyle and other factors into consideration.
Can periodontitis cause Psoriasis? Possibly. Research conducted in Taiwan in 2012, and published in the British Journal of Medicine seems to suggest a connection, but more work needs to be done. The study notably did not consider whether a subject was a smoker – a fact some scientists say should not have been overlooked given its perceived role as a Psoriasis trigger. Still, scientists who operate in dentistry and dermatology have been interested in the findings, which took place over five years, involved 230,000 participants, and found those with severe gum disease were 54% more likely to develop psoriasis over five years.
“Possibly”? Research science is tricky business because at the core of scientific discovery lies a big bowl of delicious doubt. In fact, technically-speaking, all scientific discoveries forever remain “theories.” With science, it’s important to understand that “possibly” is often the best answer to a scientific problem you can have at a certain point in time – particularly in the early stages of research.
This is why what you hear on the news can be so confusing. “Coffee is good for you!” “Coffee is bad for you!” That’s science wrestling with discovery – they’re trying to get as close as possible to a final answer, while at the same time, understanding they’re isn’t ever a final answer. And, that’s what we’re dealing with when it comes to understanding the interplay between gum disease and psoriasis. It’s just too early to tell.
So, what sort of recommendation is worth heeding? The one that says take care of your teeth and gums. Follow the familiar refrain of brush, rinse, floss and chew, and if science ever does draw enough conclusions to say periodontitis causes psoriasis, or the other way around, you’ll be on the right side of research. If the science proves inconclusive, the worst thing that could happen is that you’ll have a wonderfully healthy mouth. That’s not such a bad deal, is it?