While everyone needs to pay attention to their gum health, statistics show that men need more reminders to do so than women. Earlier this month, researchers issued a big reminder to men on this topic, in the form of study results that indicate an advance in the link between gum health and swelling of the prostate gland (a condition called prostatitis). So in this article, we want to explore this link in more depth with the aim of inspiring more men to take care of their gums.
What Is Prostatitis
This condition occurs when the prostate gland becomes inflamed. It is common; 10 to 12% of men experience its symptoms at some point. Symptoms include painful urination, uncommonly frequent urination, fever, low back pain, and groin pain. While the condition is painful, it has no known link to prostate cancer.
How Is Gum Disease Related?
Doctors diagnose the condition through a blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. If the patient’s PSA number is elevated, he most likely has prostatitis.
For several years, researchers have also been able to show high PSA numbers for sufferers of gum disease and prostatitis then either condition alone. It’s important to note, however, that no cause/effect relationship has ever been proven. So it’s currently incorrect to say one condition is an indicator of the other. However, the new study takes a step toward a treatment breakthrough.
The New Research
27 men over 21 years old who had confirmed cases of prostatitis and gum disease were studied. While they received no treatment for their prostates, they did get gum treatments over the course of four to eight weeks.
After this period of time, the men took another round of PSA tests. 21 of the participants had lower PSA numbers and improved prostatitis symptoms. “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,” the study’s co-author said.
Takeaways for Our Patients
Much more research on this topic is needed. In this case, the sample size was very small and the researchers did not use a control group. So, the relationship between gum health and prostatitis is still very much unproven.
But it’s also important to point out that gum disease is treatable and reversible in most cases. Additionally, it can be completely prevented by a successful oral hygiene routine at home and a regular schedule of dental checkups. Once this strengthening link between gum disease and prostatitis is added in, the reminder is clear: men who take care of their gums have a much better chance at oral and overall health.