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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 - 10:22:56 PM
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Don't let your Mouth Pollute your Clean Heart

May 20, 2005 - 1:03:00 PM
"It is like setting up a garbage dump on the edge of a river. You wouldn't be surprised if the lake downstream ended up polluted with the garbage from the dump. A patient's bloodstream acts very much like the river in this analogy, in that it carries the bacteria from the periodontal plaques, possibly 'polluting' the arteries of the heart with periodontal bacteria, causing inflammation of the arteries which may lead to a heart attack. This potential effect of periodontal bacteria further supports the need for periodic deep cleanings to enhance overall health and wellbeing."

 
[RxPG] Researchers have found evidence that the amount of bacteria in subgingival plaques, the deep plaques in periodontal pockets and around the teeth, may contribute to an individual's risk of a heart attack, according to two studies appearing the Journal of Periodontology. These studies further researchers understanding that periodontal bacteria may increase the risk for heart disease.

In one study researchers looked at 150 individuals with periodontal diseases and found that the total number of periodontal bacteria in subgingival plaques was higher in individuals that have suffered from an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). The second study found that the same DNA from different kinds of periodontal bacteria in plaque was also in the patients' heart arteries. Researchers believe that these findings may help substantiate what they have long known; if there is a sterile pathway, such as a bloodstream, near a periodontally infected area that the bacteria from this infected area cause inflammation in the gums that opens up pores in the surrounding blood vessels, which enables the bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body and cause great harm.

"It is like setting up a garbage dump on the edge of a river. You wouldn't be surprised if the lake downstream ended up polluted with the garbage from the dump," said Vincent J. Iacono, DMD and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "A patient's bloodstream acts very much like the river in this analogy, in that it carries the bacteria from the periodontal plaques, possibly 'polluting' the arteries of the heart with periodontal bacteria, causing inflammation of the arteries which may lead to a heart attack. This potential effect of periodontal bacteria further supports the need for periodic deep cleanings to enhance overall health and wellbeing."

These studies represent two in a large body of research that investigates the possible link between periodontal diseases and other systemic conditions such as heart disease. "Intervention data is not available to prove a causal relationship between the two. Right now we are currently advising patients that maintaining good periodontal health can only help not hurt," said Iacono.

Another study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society said that elderly persons with active root caries, a type of tooth decay, have an increased risk of having irregular heart beats.

A total of 125 generally healthy individuals over the age of 80, living in urban, community-based populations were examined. Researchers discovered that persons with three or more active root caries had more than twice the odds of cardiac arrhythmias of those without. Researchers indicate that root caries may be a marker of general physical decline in the elderly and specifically underscore the mouth as an integral part of the body.

"The findings make a strong case for the active assessment of and attention to oral problems for the older community-dwelling population," states Poul Holm-Pedersen, lead author of the study. Because arrhythmias can signify other possibly undiagnosed diseases in older people, researchers stress the importance of taking dental diseases seriously.

The advanced age of those who participated in the study may have been a factor in determining an association between overall periodontal disease and arrhythmia since those who might have been strong examples of this association may not have survived to age 80.



Publication: Journal of Periodontology and Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
On the web: www.perio.org 

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 Additional information about the news article
Representatives of the media may contact the AAP Public Affairs Department to receive a copy of the studies Characteristics of Periodontal Microflora in Acute Myocardial Infarction and Identification of Periodontal Pathogens in Atherosclerotic Vessels. Abstracts of Journal of Periodontology articles are available to the public online. Full-text of studies may be accessed by AAP members and Journal subscribers or purchased online for $20.

A referral to a periodontist in your area and free brochure samples including one titled Ask your Periodontist about Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP's Web site at www.perio.org.

The American Academy of Periodontology is an 8,000-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

Poul Holm-Pedersen, DDS, PhD is a Professor and Director of Copenhagen Gerontological Oral Health Research Center, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the recipient of the International Association of Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award for Geriatric Oral Research and has written widely on this subject. Dr. Holm-Pedersen can be reached for questions and interviews at mailto:php@odont.ku.dk.

About the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society publishes articles that are relevant in the broadest terms to the clinical care of older persons. Such articles may span a variety of disciplines and fields and may be of immediate, intermediate, or long-term potential benefit to clinical practice.

About the American Geriatrics Society
The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is the premier professional organization of health care providers dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all older adults. With an active membership of over 6,000 health care professionals, the AGS has a long history of effecting change in the provision of health care for older adults. In the last decade, the Society has become a pivotal force in shaping attitudes, policies and practices regarding health care for older people. Visit www.americangeriatrics.org for more information.

About Blackwell Publishing
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with more than 600 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 750 journals and 600 text and reference books annually, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.
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