Research by Columbia University published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found a connection between gum disease and the progression of atherosclerosis.
One of the researchers indicated how important these results are because "atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases."
Researchers analyzed more than 5,000 plaque samples from 420 adults for 11 different strains of bacteria that have been linked with periodontal disease. They also analyzed fluid around the gums as an indicator of Interleukin-1Î², a marker of inflammation and hardening of carotid arteries.
After following up with participants after a median of three years, researchers found that reduced gum health and higher levels of gum disease-linked bacteria were associated with greater progression of the intima-medial thickness. Improved gum health and decreases in the proportion of gum disease-linked bacteria was associated with slower progression of the intima-medial thickness of the carotid artery.