Confirmed Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

An article in a recent issue of the journal Infection and Immunity confirms the link between gum disease and heart disease.  This study looked at the effect of a dental bacteria that is found embedded in arterial plaques, the areas of buildup that clog arteries and lead to heart attack, stroke and death.

In the body, when a person has gum disease, there is a buildup of bacteria.  The bacteria cause inflammation in the mouth, and in other parts of the body.  This inflammation response creates a route for the bacteria to get into the blood stream, to be carried through the entire body.  The bacteria can end up anywhere and have been found in a number of different organs.  They are also found embedded in the layers that clog arteries, along with calcium, fat, cholesterol, cellular waste, and fibrin, a material involved in blood clotting.  This study looked at the response of the cells that line blood vessels to these specific dental bacteria.

P. gingivalis is an anaerobic bacteria that lives under the gums. The blood vessel cells were infected with this bacteria and the response was measured. The study findings were that the way the cell responds is altered.  The proteins that the cell makes to reduce the inflammation were decreased, and the proteins that the cells make to create more inflammation were increased.

This study confirms what we have already learned from other studies, that dental bacteria increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.  The results clarify that (1) the same bacteria that causes gum disease also plays a role heart disease, and (2) the mechanism of this action is now more clear.

If your mouth is not healthy, you are not healthy.  The bacteria in your mouth can affect your general health.  Getting your teeth cleaned regularly and treating any bleeding in your mouth is an important part of staying healthy.  If you have not had your teeth cleaned for a while, call for an appointment today!!


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