Burlingame Dental Arts in Portland, OR
Burlingame Dental Arts in Portland, OR

Studies Find Link Between Gum Disease and Low-T

added on: September 9, 2019

As we have covered in our Burlingame dentist blog, research has found significant links between periodontitis and a variety of serious health issues that include diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. Additional studies have found some levels of connection between periodontitis and testosterone levels, but they have been less conclusive.

Recently, an international team of researchers at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health reviewed eight studies that examined potential connections between chronic periodontitis and testosterone. Here’s some of what their researcher uncovered.

Understanding the Data

Over the last 30 years, bidirectional linkages between chronic periodontitis and a variety of long-term, chronic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and dementia have been reported by numerous studies. Additionally, the relationship between estrogen and periodontal disease has also been noted in women during times of extreme hormonal fluctuation, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

However, any connection between men’s reproductive health and chronic periodontitis has currently been overlooked and scarcely studied. To gain a better understanding if any link between men’s reproductive health conditions and periodontitis existed, researchers began their exhaustive review.

What researchers discovered was a number of answers that ranged from positive to negative associations to no significant association at all.

To attempt to answer why the review provided such conflicting results, researchers pointed to a number of factors that may have biased their findings. For example, different factors might influence testosterone levels, including genetics, age, and comorbidities such as obesity and glycemic levels.

Among the studies examined by researchers, they noticed a significant variation among the participants’ ages. One study looked at the testosterone levels in men between the ages of 19 to 21. Another study determined testosterone levels in patients between the ages of 66 to 95.

More importantly, researchers noticed that about 50 percent of the studies failed to properly adjust their results for contributing factors, such as obesity and smoking. Due to the discrepancies found in the majority of the examined studies, researchers are recommending the need for further examination into this topic using a larger sample of participants to be kept under review for a longer period of time.

Understanding the Link

Despite the wide range of ages and results covered in the studies reviewed, six of the eight studies did find some relationship between low testosterone and chronic periodontitis.

The negative impact of testosterone deficiency in bone metabolism have been linked to increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokins. The results from nearly 2/3rds of the studies included reported a positive correlation between testosterone levels and chronic periodontitis.

A possible reason behind these findings is the heightened response in gum tissue by immune-endocrine interactions and a hormonal modulation of fibroblast. It has all been hypothesized that testosterone could impact the gingival stromal cell response to inflammatory challenges by downregulation of proinflammatory cytokines production. In other words, fluctuations in testosterone levels could affect how well gum tissue responds to inflammation, the primary cause of periodontal disease. To determine the true extent of any relationship between these two conditions, researchers believe further study is required.

Considering the limitations of the current available data, it is fair to say that the relationship between periodontitis and low testosterone remains tenuous. However, despite the currently loose existing connection, it is necessary for patients of your Burlingame dentist to remain aware of the fact that chronic periodontitis can impact men’s reproductive health.

As further study is dedicated to this subject, be sure to check back here on our blog to find out what may connect these two serious health issues.

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