Prostatitis – chronic inflammation of the prostate – is one of the most common urological infections among adult men, with worldwide prevalence estimated at about 10%(1).
Treatment strategies for prostatitis include anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and pain-killing medications, microwave therapy, and even surgery(2). But now, researchers are saying there’s an additional treatment option that may be as effective as it is unusual: regular visits to the dentist.
The Gum Disease-Prostatitis Connection
Previous studies have linked gum disease to prostatitis symptoms. One study, published in the Journal Of Periodontology in 2010, followed thirty-five patients undergoing prostate biopsies, examining them for symptoms of periodontitis – plaque, gingivitis, and bleeding of the gums.
The conclusion they drew was that subjects with comorbidity of periodontitis and prostatitis had higher levels of the inflammatory marker prostate-specific antigen, or PSA(3).
Treating Gum Disease To Ease Prostatitis Symptoms
The recent study, reported in the journal Dentistry, explores how treating gum disease can “improve the symptoms of prostatitis and the quality of life for those who have the disease”, according to the study’s corresponding author Nabil Bissada(4).
The logic is that gum disease is a condition which affects not only the mouth, but the entire system, causing inflammation in various parts of the body. This is backed up by studies linking gum disease to fetal deaths(5), arthritis(6), and heart disease(7), but how can treating gum disease improve symptoms of prostatitis?
This is the question researchers set out to answer.
The study followed 27 men, all over the age of 21, with histories of biopsies confirming prostate inflammation and blood tests that showed elevated PSA levels.
Of the 27 participants, 21 had only mild inflammation – or no inflammation at all – but 15 confirmed malignancies. The men were then examined for signs of gum disease, which revealed that no fewer than all of them had moderate to severe symptoms of gum disease.
The men were then provided with regular treatment for gum disease, but received no treatment for their prostate conditions. Surprisingly, even without prostate treatment, most of the men had significantly decreased PSA levels at the end of their treatment(8).
Healthy Gums, Healthy Life
Bissada is currently working on a follow-up study to back up the findings produced by this initial study. His hope is to promote periodontal treatment as a potential aspect of prostate disease management.
It wouldn’t be the first time dentistry was used as preventative medicine – cardiac patients are often encouraged to visit their dentist and get treatment for any potential gum disease they may have before undergoing heart procedures, and pregnant women are encouraged to maintain good oral hygiene as well – but it is somewhat unique that dental work might be considered not just preventative, but as part of active treatment of an already existing condition like prostatitis.