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Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
 

Bacterial Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease Clarified 
September 30th, 2015 By Managing Editor, DiabetesinControl.com 

A study, published in Infection and Immunity, has clarified the mechanism behind a known link between gum disease and heart disease. Periodontitis, which results in an infection that damages the soft-tissue surrounding teeth and the bone supporting the teeth, is commonly caused by Porphyromonas gingivalis. P. gingivalis is a Gram-negative anaerobe that colonizes mouth tissues for lengthy periods of time after initial infection. It is commonly found within the arterial plaques common to heart disease patients. 

The study authors discovered that the bacteria alters the gene expression of pro-inflammatory proteins that also promote coronary artery atherosclerosis. This was discovered by infecting cultured human aortic smooth muscle cells with P. gingivalis. Aortic smooth muscle cells were used because they contract the aorta after the pumping of the heart stretches it out. 

After P. gingivalis was injected into the cells, the bacteria released gingipains. Gingipains are enzymes that change the ratio between different angiopoietins (inflammatory proteins) in such a way that inflammation is increased. The pro-inflammatory angiopoietin 2 had its expression increased by the gingipains, whereas the anti-inflammatory angiopoietin 1 had its expression reduced. P gingivalis was found to affect the levels of these proteins independent of tumor necrosis factor (TNF). 

The study is significant because it helps to pinpoint the relationship between periodontitis and heart disease. Further research can help clarify potential targets for treatment of atherosclerosis. 

Practice Pearls: 

Periodontitis and heart disease share a common pathogen, P. gingivitis. 
A study found that P. gingivitis alters gene expression to increase production of the pro-inflammatory protein angiopoietin 2 and decreases presence of the anti-inflammatory protein angiopoietin 1. This results in increased atherosclerosis. 
The study further clarifies the cardiovascular risk of poor oral health and hygiene. 
Paddock C. Scientists uncover bacterial mechanism that links gum disease to heart disease. published in the journal Infection and Immunity. September 14, 2015. 

We recommend 

PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND DIABETES 
Diabetes in control , 2006 
Is Periodontal Disease Influenced by Diabetes Type? 
Diabetes in control , 2014 
Diabetes Linked to Tooth Decay 
Diabetes in control , 2011 
Scientists uncover bacterial mechanism that links gum disease to heart disease 
Catharine Paddock PhD, Medical News Today, 2015 
Periodontitis and heart disease: Researchers connect the molecular dots 
American Society for Microbiology News via MDLinx, 2015 
The Biphasic Virulence Activities of Gingipains: Activation and Inactivation of Host Proteins



What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is caused by a variety of things; in medical terms, cavities are called caries, which are caused by long-term destructive forces acting on tooth structures such as enamel and the tooth's inner dentin material.

These destructive forces include frequent exposure to foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Soda, candy, ice cream—even milk—are common culprits.  Left inside your mouth from non-brushing and flossing, these materials break down quickly, allowing bacteria to do their dirty work in the form of a harmful, colorless sticky substance called plaque.

The plaque works in concert with leftover food particles in your mouth to form harmful acids that destroy enamel and other tooth structures.

If cavities aren't treated early enough, they can lead to more serious problems requiring treatments such as root canal therapy.

Preventing Cavities

The best defense against cavities is good oral hygiene, including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and rinsing. Your body's own saliva is also an excellent cavity fighter, because it contains special chemicals that rinse away many harmful materials. Chewing a good sugarless gum will stimulate saliva production between brushing.

Special sealants and varnishes can also be applied to stave off cavities from forming.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a cavity:

  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold water or foods.
  • A localized pain in your tooth or near the gum line.
  • Teeth that change color.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.

If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth.

One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Encouraging your toddler to drink from a cup as early as possible will also help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.