Higher levels of C-reactive protein, induced by periodontal disease, could carry increased risk of heart disease, according to US researchers.
Previous research has suggested that bacteria responsible for oral infections could cause the liver to release increased levels of C-reactive protein and other inflammatory agents associated with cardiovascular disease, but a definite link between the two has not been established.
A research team led by Dr Barbara Noack of the University of Buffalo, New York State, identified 109 individuals with moderate or severe periodontal disease and compared their serum levels of C-reactive protein to 65 healthy controls. Subgingival plaque samples were taken to test for the periodontal pathogens Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Campylobacter recta and Bacteroides forsythus.
The researchers found that levels of C-reactive protein were correlated with severity of periodontal disease, after adjusting for age, smoking status, cholesterol level, body mass index and triglycerides. The pathogens tested for were also associated with higher levels of C-reactive protein. Significantly more patients with cardiovascular problems were found among the moderate and severe gum disease groups.
President of the American Academy of Periodontology, Dr Michael McGuire, said, "As researchers continue to sort out the link between periodontal disease and heart disease, my advice to my patients remains the same - do not take your gum health for granted or you may have more to lose than just your teeth."