Dental professionals have suspected that oral health and general health are interlinked for hundreds of years, but it has not been until the last couple decades that research has showed concrete evidence that oral health and overall well-being are truly connected. Recently, a study was conducted examining the pathogens found in gum tissue among patients with periodontal disease and pathogens found in the arteries among patients with cardiovascular issues. The results showed that the bacteria specific to periodontal disease enters the blood stream and migrates to the arteries.
Gum Disease and the Heart
Published in Infection and Immunity in September 2015, this research examined more than just the presence of gingival bacteria in the arteries. It also studied its effects on gene expression. Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) is a gram negative bacteria that stays active in the gums after the initial infection of periodontal tissue. P. gingivalis is a pathogen unique to periodontal disease and when it collects in the arteries, it affects pro-inflammatory gene expression.
This affect on gene expression was researched by injecting P. gingivalis into human aortic tissue. This allowed researchers to study the effects of this particular bacteria’s presence on the cardiovascular system. Researchers were able to see that when P. gingivalis is present in the arteries, gingipain enzymes are released which increase inflammation. Pro-inflammatory angioprotetins became increased with the presence of these bacteria while anti-inflammatory protein expression was decreased.
The research adds further clarification on the link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular issues such as atherosclerosis.
Preventing Gum Disease
Advanced gum disease is difficult to manage and very destructive to oral health, which is why prevention is important. Preventing gum disease involves a commitment to thorough and proper oral hygiene including daily flossing. Routine dental appointments should be kept as well since professional cleanings prevent tartar buildup (a leading contributor to gum disease) and regular checkups can lead to early detection.
Contact the office of Dr. Chris Tye today to reserve an appointment.