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Your Dentist as an Ally in Preventing Heart Disease? Research Says Yes

By Gerald Regni, DMD on September 29, 2015

It has long been theorized that gum disease (aka periodontitis) was, in one way or another, linked to cardiovascular conditions. Since the connection was merely proposed, there has been no substantial evidence to prove it—until only recently.

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After stumbling upon a specific periodontal pathogen, researchers from Orebro, Sweden may have come to a conclusion that your local dentist in Philadelphia or elsewhere may be able to help ward off heart disease. The said pathogen was shown to increase inflammation and atherosclerosis in the smooth muscles of the heart, particularly the aortic region. Named Porphyromonas gingivalis, significant amounts of the pathogen that originated from the gums were found in coronary artery plaques of heart attack sufferers, and were reported to have caused genetic changes that increased inflammation risks with heart disease.

P. gingivalis is also a well-known culprit in the development of gum disease, which damages both the soft tissue that supports teeth and the bone that supports them. According to the researchers, they have found that P. gingivalis directly alters the functioning of proteins that boost inflammation in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart.

To come up with their results, the researchers took samples of human aortic smooth muscle cells and subsequently infected them with P. gingivalis strains. As soon as the muscles were laced with the pathogen, the P. gingivalis excreted enzymes called “gingipains” that changed the ratio between two inflammation-causing proteins, causing a boost in inflammatory response. In turn, this response is purported to play a huge part in the hardening of arteries, which is further aggravated by artery walls getting clogged up with fats that eventually turn to harmful plaques.

So now that the link’s been confirmed with sufficient evidence, the next logical step is to prevent gum disease. Fortunately enough, this is as easy as maintaining a sound oral hygiene routine—brushing your teeth at least twice a day to help remove food debris and plaque, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Furthermore, it also helps to see a reliable dentist in Philadelphia like Dr. Gerald Regni, DMD to identify several risk factors for gum disease early on. The latter is especially important since early detection is critical in protecting the teeth and gums.

With the gum disease-periodontitis link now having adequate evidence, the dangers of the latter cannot be understated. Should you feel like your gums need immediate attention, never hesitate to consult a professional to lower your risk of heart disease, and be sure to live a healthier lifestyle from now on.

Sources Periodontitis Linked To Heart Disease In New Study, UPI.com, September 11, 2015 Scientists uncover bacterial mechanism that links gum disease to heart disease, Medical News Today, September 14, 2015

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