Gum Maintenance Slows Narrowing of Arteries

13 02 2014

Taking care of your gums by brushing and flossing could help keep heart disease at bay. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have shown for the first time that as gum health improves, progression of atherosclerosis slows to a clinically significant degree. 1

Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of arteries through the build-up of plaque and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and death. Moise Desvarieux, lead author of the paper and associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School, said:

“These results are important because atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.”

Scientists speculate that bacteria in the mouth may contribute to the onset of atherosclerosis in a number of ways. Animal studies indicate that they may trigger immune response and high levels of inflammatory markers, which may initiate or exacerbate the inflammatory aspect of atherosclerosis.

1. Desvarieux M, Demmer R T, Jacobs D R, Papapanou P N, Sacc R L, Rundek T. Changes in clinical and microbiological periodontal profiles relate to progression of carotid intima-media thickness: the oral infections and vascular disease epidemiology study. J Am Heart Assoc 2013; 2: e000254

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