Is there a relationship between periodontal conditions and number of medications among the elderly?
Objective: To investigate possible correlations of clinical attachment level and pocket depth with number of medications in elderly individuals.
Methods: Intra-oral examinations for 139 patients visiting Tufts dental clinic were done. Periodontal assessments were performed with a manual UNC-15 periodontal probe to measure probing depth (PD) and clinical attachment level (CAL) at 6 sites. Complete lists of patients’ medications were obtained during the examinations. Statistical analysis involved Kruskal-Wallis, chi square and multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Results: Age and health status attained statistical significance (p< 0.05), in contingency table analysis with number of medications. Number of medications had an effect on CAL: increased attachment loss was observed when 4 or more medications were being taken by the patient. Number of medications did not have any effect on periodontal PD. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, 6 or more medications had a higher risk of attachment loss (>3mm) when compared to the no-medication group, in crude OR (1.20, 95% CI:0.22-6.64), and age adjusted (OR=1.16, 95% CI:0.21-6.45), but not with the multivariate model (OR=0.71, 95% CI:0.11-4.39).
Conclusion: CAL seems to be more sensitive to the number of medications taken, when compared to PD. However, it is not possible to discriminate at exactly what number of drug combinations the breakdown in CAL will happen. We need to do further analysis, including more subjects, to understand the possible synergistic mechanisms for different drug and periodontal responses.
Keywords: periodontal disease, medications, elderly, clinical attachment level, probing depth