The link between gum and kidney disease in cats

There is a link between periodontal disease and kidney disease in cats but, as I type this, I'm not sure what that link is. What I mean is I'm not sure if periodontal disease can cause kidney disease or vice versa. I know that kidney disease can cause bad breath in cats which is ammonia smelling. 

Periodontal disease in cats. Left: Gingivitis. Middle: Teeth cleaning kit. Right: Commercial feline dental food.
Periodontal disease in cats. Left: Gingivitis. Middle: Teeth cleaning kit. Right: Commercial feline dental food. Image: MikeB



I am researching as I am typing this. It seems that periodontal disease can increase the risk of kidney disease and liver and heart disease. Further, a study in humans, specifically 699 African Americans, showed that periodontal disease can make people more prone to kidney disease. The study found that African-Americans with severe gum disease were over four times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease.

The study also appears to have concluded that if periodontal disease is properly treated and eliminated that has a positive effect on the onset of chronic kidney disease i.e. the onset can be prevented.

Another study discusses an "imbalance of the body's oxygen producing free radicals and its antioxidant cells could be the reason why gum disease and chronic kidney disease affect each other..."

In this study over 700 patients with chronic kidney disease were examined both orally and using full body examinations including blood samples. The aim was to test the hypothesis that periodontal disease and kidney function affect each other. The results show that a 10% increase in gum inflammation reduces kidney function by 3%. And a 3% worsening in kidney function translates to an increase in the risk of kidney failure over a five-year period from 32%-34%. Interestingly, the study found that a 10% reduction in kidney function increases periodontal inflammation by 25%.

The researchers found that the link between gum disease and kidney disease was caused by "oxidative stress" which is a biological process. It is an 'an imbalance between reactive oxygen species and the body's antioxidant capacity which damages tissues on a cellular level'. I have quoted that verbatim by the way because I don't understand it :) !

The study is the first to try and 'quantify the causal effect of periodontitis on kidney function' and vice versa as well as the first to elucidate the pathways involved. They suggest that further studies are carried out. The study was carried out by Dr. Praveen Sharma and team at the Periodontal Research Group, University of Birmingham's School of Dentistry.

An important point I forgot to mention is that 85% of cats have gum disease at 2 years old or later and sometimes at aged one. This shocking stat from my reference book tells me that gum disease may be why kidney disease is too prevalent in domestic cats. Elderly cats often die of it. Perhaps owners should be cleaning their cat's teeth as a default. No exceptions. At the moment it is rare.

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