New Research Highlights the Link Between Periodontitis and Heart Disease

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The connection between cardiovascular disease and periodontitis has been talked about quite a bit in recent scientific and dental health circles. Researchers have found that patients with cardiovascular disease are far more likely to have some form of gum disease as well. Now they’re studying the link further to learn more about the exact causes behind this oral-systemic health connection.

Recently, scientists at Forsyth and Boston University teamed up to see what happened with cardiovascular disease when gum disease was treated. Their results are the first definitive demonstration of how treating one can make a significant difference on the other.

Treating inflammation…

The scientists targeted inflammation in gum tissues for their treatment. Inflammation, caused by bacterial presence at the gumline, causes much damage in gum disease as the body’s immune system attempts to rid itself of the bacterial invader. Swelling, redness, bleeding, and pain are all signs of gum disease, brought on by inflammation in the oral cavity.

The researchers treated gum disease medicine whose active ingredient is a molecule aimed at reducing inflammation, named Resolvin E1. Our immune systems naturally make resolvin to combat inflammation both orally and systemically. Researchers noted that oral treatment of gum disease also lead to decreased inflammation of artery walls.

… leads to information

Resolvin E1’s effect on both gum and heart disease shows both that treating one can help the other, but it is also a definitive example of how the two are linked by inflammatory processes. Preventing gum disease, therefore, can be viewed as an important tool in warding off cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and stroke.

Scientists also believe that the presence of gum disease should be viewed as a risk factor for heart disease, like diabetes and obesity. The more information we have about this connection, and the more health officials and professionals acknowledge it, the better we can prevent disease from developing.

Steps to prevention

One reason studies like this are so important is that they can reach healthy patients and inform them on how to stay healthy! If this study is correct, preventing oral inflammation could make a significant difference in preventing cardiovascular inflammation and disease. So how do we do this?

The best way is excellent oral care— and paying extra attention that your gums are as healthy as your teeth are clean! Taking time to floss in between meals, or at least once at night, is one of the most important things you can do to maintain gum health. Eating a healthy diet– one rich in vitamin-containing fruits and vegetables– is another critical element to great gum health.

Are you curious?

Do you have more questions about the connection between periodontal and cardiovascular health? Want to know more about taking great care of your gums? Do you have more information to share on the subject? Please bring all your questions and comments with you to your next appointment with Dr. McLeod, your dentist in Newberg OR.

Photo Credit: rofi via Compfight cc

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