Tooth cavities increase heart disease risk

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New York: Taking better care of your teeth can also help you lower the risk of heart diseases, suggests a new study.

The researchers have found that common oral infections which are caused by the bacteria in our mouth are linked to cardiovascular diseases.

The most common oral infections are cavities and periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which are chronic inflammatory diseases that slowly and steadily destroy the supporting structures of multiple teeth.

“Given the high prevalence of oral infections, any risk they contribute to future cardiovascular disease is important to public health,” said senior author Thomas Van Dyke of the Forsyth Institute, affiliated with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Inflammation plays a major role both in oral infections such as periodontitis and in cardiovascular disease, the study noted.

“Unravelling the role of the oral microbiome and inflammation in cardiovascular disease will likely lead to new preventive and treatment approaches,” Van Dyke said.

The (oral) microbiome refers to the totality of microorganisms in a body part-in this case the mouth.

For the study, the researchers reviewed current clinical evidence supporting a link between oral infections and heart disease and found that oral infections, particularly periodontitis, and stroke, especially among men and younger individuals, are tied.

However, the researchers cautioned that certain over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can produce significant cardiovascular side effects, which means it is crucial to consider alternative therapies.

“New discoveries of natural pathways that resolve inflammation have offered many opportunities for revealing insights into disease pathogenesis and for developing new pharmacologic targets for the treatment of both oral infections and cardiovascular disease,” Van Dyke pointed out.

The study appeared in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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