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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



Gingivitis is the medical term for early gum disease, or periodontal disease. In general, gum disease can be caused by long-term exposure to plaque, the sticky but colorless film on teeth that forms after eating or sleeping.

Gum disease originates in the gums, where infections form from harmful bacteria and other materials left behind from eating. Early warning signs include chronic bad breath, tender or painful swollen gums and minor bleeding after brushing or flossing. In many cases, however, gingivitis can go unnoticed. The infections can eventually cause the gums to separate from the teeth, creating even greater opportunities for infection and decay.

Although gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults, in many cases it is avoidable.

If gingivitis goes untreated, more serious problems such as abscesses, bone loss or periodontitis can occur.

Periodontitis is treated in a number of ways. One method, called root planing, involved cleaning and scraping below the gum line to smooth the roots. If effective, this procedure helps the gums reattach themselves to the tooth structure.  However, not all instances of scaling and root planing successfully reattach the tooth to the gums.  Additional measures may be needed if the periodontal pockets persist after scaling and root planing

Pregnancy has also been known to cause a form of gingivitis. This has been linked to hormonal changes in the woman's body that promote plaque production.