Gum disease more likely in people with psoriasis

| Melissa Leavitt

If pain and bleeding in your gums have become part of your toothbrushing routine, you may want to check in with your dentist. A new study has found that people with psoriasis are significantly more likely to have gum disease—known as periodontitis—than people without psoriasis.

The study, conducted in Norway, compared the rate of periodontitis in a group of 50 people with moderate to severe psoriasis to 121 people without psoriasis. Results were published in the journal BMC Oral Health.

After performing a dental exam and x-rays on all of the participants, researchers found that periodontitis was significantly more common in people with psoriasis than in people without psoriasis. In addition, loss of the alveolar bone—which is the bone that holds the tooth socket—happens more often in people with psoriasis.

According to the results, 24 percent of the psoriasis patients in the study had moderate or severe periodontitis, while only 10 percent of people in the control group did. 

The link between psoriasis and alveolar bone loss was even stronger; 36 percent of people with psoriasis had one or more sites of bone loss measuring at least 3 millimeters (mm), compared with 13 percent of people without psoriasis. Even after adjusting for other factors that could lead to gum disease, including smoking and how often people visited the dentist, people with psoriasis were significantly more likely to suffer from bone loss.

This study is not the first to uncover a link between gum disease and psoriasis. Previous studies have found that periodontitis may put people at risk for developing psoriasis, the researchers note. Because many patients develop psoriasis before periodontitis, psoriasis could also increase their risk for gum disease, said Dr. Rasa Skudutyte-Rysstad, the lead author of the study. 

The key to this link could have to do with the way these diseases work in the body. “Both diseases can be characterized by exaggerated immune response,” explained Skudutyte-Rysstad. “However, more studies are needed in order to confirm the causal link.”

In the meantime, doctors and patients should work together to maintain good gum health, she said. According to the American Dental Association, brushing your teeth twice every day, flossing once daily, and regular visits to the dentist can help prevent gum disease.

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For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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