Taking care of your gums by brushing and flossing could help keep heart disease at bay. New research from the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have shown that as gum health improves, progression of atherosclerosis slows to a clinically significant degree.
Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of arteries through the build-up of fatty deposits (plaques) and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and death.
It was found that atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with clinical periodontal (gum) disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. These findings are the most direct evidence that modifying or changing the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.
Scientists think 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 responses and high levels of inflammatory markers, which may initiate or exacerbate the inflammatory aspect of atherosclerosis.
Desvarieux M, Demmer R T, Jacobs D R, Papapanou P N, Sacco R L, Rundek T. Changes in clinical and microbiological periodontal profiles relate to progression of carotid intima-media thickness: the oral infactions and vascular disease epidemiology study. J AM Heart Assoc 2013;2:e000254