home : Bad Teeth May Signal Risk For Heart Attack

What does your Mouth says about your Heart

Since periodontitis is a persistent bacterial infection causing chronic inflammation in periodontal tissues, it is suggested that it may travel through the bloodstream and increase the risk of acute cardiac syndrome.

Eliminating dental plaque may be an important step in preventing periodontitis and coronary artery disease according to a new study published in this month's issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

Researchers examined 20 individuals with chronic periodontitis.  In 13 of the 20 patients, bacterial pathogens most frequently found in severe chronic periodontitis were also found in atherosclerotic plaque of coronary vessels.  In 10 cases, those species of bacteria were also present in atherosclerotic plaque and in subgingival plaque".  (Atherosclerosis is a multistage process set in motion when cells lining the arteries are damaged as a result of high blood pressure, smoking, toxic substances and other agents.)

"We found that patients with periodontal pathogens detected in atherosclerotic plaque had four millimeters or greater of deep periodontal pockets and a significantly higher bleeding index," said study author Dr. Maciej Zaremba. "This supports the possibility that bacteria associated with periodontitis can permeate into coronary vessels."

"Since periodontal and cardiovascular diseases have several common risk factors, more studies are needed to evaluate the strength of association between the two diseases," said Preston D. Miller, Jr., DDS and AAP president. "It is very important for people to talk to their dentist or periodontist about their periodontal health and their at-home oral hygiene routine to prevent periodontal disease and maybe even coronary artery disease."
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