The idea is that nasty bacteria around your gums somehow cause arterial inflammation in your heart arteries, which could lead to heart attacks. I’ve written about this before.
A quote from the article:
The researchers followed 420 adults as part of the Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study (INVEST), a randomly sampled prospective cohort of Northern Manhattan residents. Participants were examined for periodontal infection. Overall, 5,008 plaque samples were taken from several teeth, beneath the gum, and analyzed for 11 bacterial strains linked to periodontal disease and seven control bacteria. Fluid around the gums was sampled to assess levels of Interleukin-1β, a marker of inflammation. Atherosclerosis in both carotid arteries was measured using high-resolution ultrasound.
Over a median follow-up period of three years, the researchers found that improvement in periodontal health-health of the gums-and a reduction in the proportion of specific bacteria linked to periodontal disease correlated to a slower intima-medial thickness (IMT) progression, and worsening periodontal infections paralleled the progression of IMT. Results were adjusted for potential confounders such as body mass index, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and smoking status.
Thickening of the arterial lining is linked to higher rates of heart attack and stroke.
It remains to be seen whether alteration of gum bacteria and periodontal disease via oral self-care and dental care will reduce cardiovascular risk going forward. Stay tuned.