Researchers Uncover Link Between Gum & Heart Disease

Researchers Uncover Link Between Gum & Heart Disease

As your family dentist in Eugene Oregon, Dr. Rita Feldmanis strives to provide every patient with the latest and most advanced dental care possible.

In recent years, a growing amount of research has found compelling links between an individual’s oral health and his or her overall health. Studies have repeatedly found that individuals suffering from poor oral health have an increased risk of such chronic illnesses as stroke, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and even some forms of cancer.

However, despite the growing amount of research that shows a connection between oral disease and poor overall health, a tangible cause and effect relationship has eluded researchers until now. A recent study offers some new clarification on the mechanism behind the link between heart disease and gum disease.

The results of this study was published in the journal Infection and Immunity.

A New Link Discovered

Periodontitis, an infection that causes damage to the soft tissue that surrounds teeth and supporting bone structure, is caused by Porphyromonas gingivalis. P. gingivalis colonizes oral tissue for extended periods of time after an initial infection has developed. This same type of bacteria is also commonly found in the arterial walls of patients suffering from heart disease.

Researchers determined that the bacteria alters gene expression of pro-inflammatory proteins that also encourage coronary artery atherosclerosis. Researchers determined this effect by infecting cultured human aortic muscle cells with P. gingivalis.

Once the bacteria was injected into the cells, P. gingivalis began to release gingipains, a type of enzyme that alters that ratio between inflammatory proteins. This enzyme caused increased inflammation in aortic muscle cells. Not only was the P. gingivalis found to create enzymes that caused inflammation, the bacteria was also determined to increase the amount of inflammation that occurred overall.

The results of this latest study offer a significant pinpoint relationship between heart disease and periodontitis.

Lowering Your Risk of Disease

Fortunately, the results of this study mean that by improving your oral health you can significantly lower your overall risk for a variety of serious, long-term health problems.

Brushing at least twice day and flossing daily rank as the most effective ways of lowering your risk of gum disease and eliminating harmful bacteria from your mouth. Scheduling regular checkups and cleanings with a family dentist in Eugene, Oregon like Dr. Feldmanis also plays an important role in protecting your long-term oral health.

Cleanings allow our staff of gentle and compassionate dental hygienists to remove built up plaque from along the gum line and between teeth, while exams provide Dr. Feldmanis with the opportunity to spot the early signs of gum disease before the condition can advanced to a more serious stage.

If you have any questions about the risks poor oral health can play in effecting your overall health, feel free to ask Dr. Feldmanis during your next appointment

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