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Eye Health, Gum Health Linked in Finnish Study
January 23, 2013

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Men with an age-related eye disease are also more likely to have a common sign of long-term periodontal disease, say Finnish researchers.

The study focused on 1,751 people. They were all age 30 or older. Researchers were looking for links between periodontal disease and an eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD can damage central vision -- how well people see objects straight in front of them. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in older people. In Finland, 12% of people age 65 and over have AMD.

Infection and inflammation have recently been shown to play a role in making AMD worse. Periodontal disease causes inflammation. Over time, it can lead to bone loss in the jaw. So researchers looked for bone loss in the jaw as a sign of long-term periodontal disease.

Each person in the study gave blood and saliva samples. Researchers took digital X-rays and looked at them to see if bone had been lost in the jaw. They studied the saliva samples for bacteria. They used medical records and questionnaires to get other information.

Of the people in the study, 3% (54) had AMD. Researchers adjusted their numbers to account for the fact that AMD becomes more common with age. After these adjustments, the study showed that men with AMD were more likely to have bone loss in the jaw. This link was not found in women.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. There were no differences in the amounts of these bacteria between the AMD and non-AMD groups.

No previous studies have looked at bone loss in the jaw and AMD.

The study appears in the January issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

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