Poor oral health could worsen Crohn’s disease, study shows

Oral health could worsen gut inflammation and conditions such as Crohn's disease, a new study has suggestedPoor oral health could worsen gut inflammation and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, a new study has suggested.

Just over one week has passed since dental practices have started to reopen their doors for face-to-face treatment.

But new research suggests that 10 weeks of lockdown closure could have an impact beyond tooth decay and cavities.

It reveals that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) could worsen as a result of poor oral health.

This includes conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which affects around 300,000 people in the UK.

Periodontitis problems

The medical team, based at the University of Michigan, contacted the dental school after noticing a research link between an excess of foreign bacteria in the guts of those with IBD – a bacterial species that is usually found in the mouth.

The study found that periodontitis leads to an imbalance of healthy microbiome in the mouth, with a spike in bacteria that causes inflammation.

Additionally, periodontitis activates the immune system’s T cells in the mouth, which then travel to the gut and worsen inflammation.

Critical need

‘This exacerbation of gut inflammation driven by oral organisms that migrate to the gut has important ramifications,’ said co-author William Giannobile, a professor in dentistry.

‘It emphasises to patients the critical need to promote oral health as a part of total body health and wellbeing.’

Researchers believe the study could lead to new treatments for IBD.

‘Far too many patients still fail medications, leading to reduced quality of life and eventual surgery,” said study co-author Shrinivas Bishu, assistant professor of gastroenterology.

‘This study importantly implies that monitoring oral inflammation potentially improves clinical outcomes in IBD – an intriguing concept.’

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