Arteries Healthier After Treatment for Periodontal Disease

March 07, 2007by Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH – Treating severe periodontal disease improves blood flow and makes arteries healthier, a study says.

Researchers from University College, London, and the University of Connecticut included 120 people in the study. All had periodontal disease that affected at least half their teeth. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth.

The people in the study did not have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or kidney or liver disease.

Half of the people received scaling and root planing, a common treatment for periodontal disease. With this treatment, the teeth are cleaned above and below the gums. This group also had antibiotics (in a slow-dissolving powder form) placed under the gums to help destroy bacteria.

The rest of the study participants received a standard tooth cleaning. All participants were taught how to brush and floss.

Six months later, people in the intensive treatment group had less plaque on their teeth, and their gums bled less.

The intensive treatment group also had better blood flow through the brachial artery. This artery is the major artery in the upper arm.

This group also had lower levels of a blood protein called E-selectin, which indicates inflammation. However, the group did not have lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which also shows the presence of inflammation.

The authors note that as many as 80% of U.S. adults have some form of periodontal disease. However, they said, only about 1% — or 3 million people — have a form as severe as the people in the study.

The study appears in the March 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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