Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Departments of Urology and Pathology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center have found that treating gum disease reduces symptoms of prostate inflammation.
Prostate inflammation is also known as prostatitis. It is a condition in which the prostate gland becomes inflamed. The prostate gland is the organ that is responsible for the production of semen. Prostatitis may also be described as infection of the prostate. The prostate may be inflamed with or without an infection. About 5 percent to 10 percent of prostatitis cases are caused by bacterial infection. Having prostatitis does not increase your risk for developing prostate cancer.
Prostatitis can affect men of all ages. It accounts for up to 25 percent of all doctor’s visits for men complaining of genital and urinary symptoms. Chronic prostatitis is actually the number-one reason men under the age of 50 see a urologist. Sometimes, men may experience acute prostatitis after having chronic prostatitis. Chronic prostatitis may also be caused by urinary tract infections.
Prostatitis symptoms vary depending on the cause. The condition can be chronic and infectious. The main or initial symptom of chronic infectious prostatitis is usually repeated bladder infections. It is considered chronic if it lasts more than three months. Other symptoms of prostatits may include pain or burning sensation when urinating, difficulty urinating, such as dribbling or hesitant urination, frequent urination, particularly at night, urgent need to urinate, pain in the abdomen, groin or lower back, pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum, pain or discomfort of the penis or testicles, painful orgasms, or flu-like symptoms (with bacterial prostatitis).
This is not the first study to show a connection between the two conditions. There have been previous studies that have found a link between prostatitis and gum disease. According to Nabil Bissada, who is the chair of Case Western Reserve’s Department of Periodontics and the new study’s corresponding author, “This study shows that if we treat the gum disease, it can improve the symptoms of prostatitis and the quality of life for those who have the disease.”
Dr. Bissada says that ‘gum disease not only affects the mouth, but is a system-wide condition that can cause inflammation in various parts of the body.’ Researchers at the dental school have previously also found a link between gum disease and heart disease, fetal deaths, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In the study, the researchers analyzed 27 men who were all 21 years old and older. Each of the men had previously had a biopsy within the past year, which confirmed their diagnosis of prostatitis. They had all also had a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test which showed they had elevated levels of PSA, which may indicate prostatitis or prostate cancer. The researches then assessed the men for symptoms of prostate disease by having them answer questions on the International-Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) test about their quality of life and possible urination issues.
The results showed that among the 27 men, 21 of them had either did not have prostatitis or had mild prostatitis. Fifteen of the men had prostate cancer which was confirmed with a prostate biopsy. Two of the men had both prostatitis and prostate cancer.
The participants also had to have at least 18 teeth and were examined for signs of gum disease. Signs of gum disease include increased levels of inflammation and bleeding and/or loose teeth due to attachment and bone loss. The examinations showed that all of the men had moderate to severe gum disease. They were then treated for gum disease and tested again for periodontal disease. Four to eight weeks later, they showed significant improvement.
While the men were treated for gum disease, they did not receive any treatment for their prostate. The researchers found that even without prostate treatment, 21 of the 27 men had lower PSA levels. The men with the highest levels of inflammation benefited the most from the periodontal treatment. Six of the men showed no changes at all.
Dr. Bissada is now working on additional studies to confirm this study’s findings. His goal is to eventually make periodontal treatment a standard part of treating prostate disease.