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Are Gum and Heart Disease Related?

Are Gum and Heart Disease Related?

May 05, 2014

Is it possible that a trip to the dentist could later lead to an appointment with a cardiologist?

Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology showed a connection between gum disease and heart disease. The topic has been broached several times before but the authors of this new study hope the results will influence the future of heart disease diagnosis and treatment.

Senior Man Brushing His Teeth

According to Live Science, the American Heart Association analyzed more than 500 studies in 2012 to determine if there is a causal link. They acknowledged that there is a connection, but said there isn’t enough evidence yet to call it causal. Because this research was just released, the AHA has not taken the results into account yet. Data from the American Heart Association shows that 70 percent of Americans ages 60 and older have cardiovascular diseases.

A team of researchers at the University of Florida infected mice with four different types of bacteria that cause gum disease and observed how they were affected over six months. It was recorded that the bacteria traveled from their mouths to their hearts, where risk factors of heart disease, such as inflammation and high cholesterol, increased. According to Live Science, bacteria were also evident in the kidneys, lungs and livers.

This research is part of a larger study about gum disease being funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Kesavalue Lakshmyya, of the University of Florida’s Department of Periodontology in the College of Dentistry, is leading the research with the goal of drawing more attention to the connection between oral health and overall health.

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