A new study suggests that severe gum disease (chronic periodontitis) may cause a reduction in red blood cells and haemoglobin leading to the blood disorder anaemia.
The research, published in the Journal of Periodontology, found that over a third of people suffering from severe gum disease had haemoglobin levels below normal concentrations.
Following a six-month course of treatment to improve their oral health, all patients had improved levels of red blood cells, haemoglobin and all other clinical measures used to assess the health of the blood.
The research also suggested that women with severe gum disease had a higher risk of anaemia, compared to men.
Less than three in ten men had anaemia, compared to over four in every ten women.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: ‘There have been several previous studies which have drawn a link between gum disease and anaemia. This latest work confirms that chronic periodontitis can contribute to the development of anaemia.
‘The research suggests that the defence chemicals produced by the body as a result of inflammation of the gum can have the negative effect of lowering haemoglobin levels and other factors important to a healthy blood system.
‘The good news is that treatment of gum disease appears to have a positive effect on the severity of the anaemia, especially in women. Treatment, over a relatively short time frame of three to six months, improves haemoglobin levels and red blood cell counts.’