Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Proper Dental Hygiene and Heart Disease

The health of our blood vessels could be hanging by the proverbial thread: dental floss.

It has been long suspected that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory process, and that periodontal disease plays a role in atherosclerosis. A new research study by Italian and U.K. scientists examined the carotid arteries of 35 otherwise healthy people (median age 46) with mild to moderate periodontal disease before and after having their periodontal disease treated. One year after treatment, the scientists observed a reduction in oral bacteria, immune inflammation and the thickening of the blood vessels associated with atherosclerosis.

This finding can't be simply brushed aside. Proper dental hygiene can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart disease independently of other measures, such as managing cholesterol.

Piconi, S., Trabattoni, D., Luraghi, C., Perilli, E., Borelli, M., Pacei, M., Rizzardini, G., Lattuada, A., Bray, D. H., Catalano, M., Sparaco, A., Clerici, M. (2009). Treatment of periodontal disease results in improvements in endothelial dysfunction and reduction of the carotid intima-media thickness. FASEB J. 23: 1196-1204