Thursday, January 05, 2006

Watch your mouth!

You've probably heard about the link between gum disease and heart disease.

Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease.
  1. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation.
  2. Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.
  3. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures.
  4. Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the causal relationship of oral infection as a risk factor for stroke, people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.

Now, comes a very intriguing study:

Periodontitis appears to be such a significant chronic infection that the effect of antibiotic treatment in preventing cardiovascular events is lost in patients that suffer from it. A 3-month course of treatment with antibiotics decreased recurrence of cardiovascular events in patients without periodontitis, while the medication was found to have no effect in patients with periodontitis.

Scary stuff! So, antibiotics reduce cardiovascular risk, unless you have gum disease.

Brush and floss often and consider a mouth rinse with antimicrobial activity, such as Crest Pro-Health. No, I'm not a member of the gun, er gum lobby. I just like the research on this product. And here's a rather convincing chart.



At 8:53 PM, January 06, 2006, Anonymous mdmarcus said...


It is wonderful to see this information getting the exposure it deserves! Good work!

Mike Marcus


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