Healthy Living

Treat Gum Disease for Healthier Blood Vessels

Treat Gum Disease for Healthier Blood Vessels

Intensive treatment of gum diseases may help blood vessels and gums, reports a study published in, The New England Journal of Medicine. The study was conducted on 120 people who had severe gum disease, or peridontitis. In this condition, the gum line recedes and teeth loosens as the support is weak.

Many other studies had pointed towards the link between oral health and heart disease, possibly because of inflammation due to the gum disease. Maurizio Tonetti, DMD, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Connecticut, examined and recorded the data from 120 patients, who were about 40-years-old, who were mostly overweight but not obese. About one third of the participants were current smokers, while 30% of them were former smokers.

The researchers examined the participants to see how much the inner lining of their arm’s brachial artery would dilate. A healthy endothelium can dilate better because of good blood flow. Poor endothelial functions may indicate heart disease, say researchers. They also collected blood samples for the tests.

After the examination and blood tests, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group got the standard treatment, including dentist scrape and teeth polishing. The second group received more aggressive treatment including a shot of anesthesia which will allow the dentist to remove the plaque below the gum line and extract the teeth, if necessary. After this, blood samples were collected again and the endothelial function tests were repeated periodically for the next six months.

The patients in the intensive treatment group had higher levels of inflammatory chemicals in the blood and worse endothelial functioning, one day after the treatment. But the endothelial functioning was better than the standard care group six months after the treatment. This shows that intensive treatment of gum disease increases the inflammation and curb the endothelial functioning momentarily, but improves both of them in the long run, say researchers.

Six months after the treatment, the benefits in oral health were associated with improvement in endothelial functioning, they explain. But it is still not clear whether the findings can be applied to those people who have less severe form of gum disease or those with heart health risk factors.