In the treatment of severe liver disorders such as cirrhosis the standard of care traditionally has not focused on the patient’s teeth. Yet now, investigators at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have just released new study findings that show routine oral care to treat gum disease (periodontitis) may play a role in reducing inflammation and toxins in the blood (endotoxemia) and improving cognitive function in people with liver cirrhosis. Results from the new study were published online in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology through an article titled “Periodontal Therapy Favorably Modulates the Oral-Gut-Hepatic Axis in Cirrhosis.”
“Cirrhosis is associated with a systemic pro-inflammatory milieu, endotoxemia, and gut dysbiosis. The oral cavity could be an additional source of inflammation,” the authors wrote. “We aimed to determine the effect of periodontal therapy in cirrhosis through evaluating endotoxemia, inflammation, cognition, and quality of life (QOL).”
Cirrhosis is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and is hallmarked by the presence of scar tissue on the liver. When severe, it can often lead to liver failure. Complications of cirrhosis can include infections throughout the body and hepatic encephalopathy, a buildup of toxins in the brain caused by the advanced liver disease. Symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy include confusion, mood changes, and impaired cognitive function.
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