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Gum Disease And Early Indicators Of Cardiovascular Disease

New Study Further Strengthens Link Between Gum Disease And Early Indicators Of Cardiovascular Disease


Researchers may be one step closer to establishing a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD) – the number one cause of death worldwide. According to a new study unveiled recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, periodontal disease contributes to blood vessel dysfunction, which was improved by an intensive regimen of periodontal treatment. The research team, led by Maurizio Tonetti, D.M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of the European Research Group on Periodontology, demonstrates a link between early indicators of artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and periodontal disease. The study enrolled 120 otherwise healthy patients with a severe form of periodontitis in a six-month trial and compared the effects of regular tooth cleaning with those of intensive periodontal treatment (scaling and root planing, locally administered antibiotics and tooth extraction, when necessary). The intensive treatment group showed important and statistically significant improvements in blood flow (as measured by brachial arterial dilation) within two months of treatment. The improvement was greater six months after treatment.

“In recent years, there have been numerous hypotheses linking periodontal infections to atherosclerosis – the process that leads to blockage of blood vessels,” notes Dr. Tonetti. “This study validates the effectiveness of intensive periodontal treatment in affecting vascular health.”

Currently, more than one in three Americans over age 30 have some form of periodontitis, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. CVD is the single largest killer of American adults; in 2003, it caused one of every five deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, periodontal infections often go untreated, creating a chronic inflammatory burden that may result in systemic inflammation, possibly contributing to broader health problems.

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