Healthy Gums, Healthy Heart

Research is once again showing that oral care is good for the heart. A study recently released in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed that reduction of periodontal disease is associated with a decrease in carotid artery intima-media thickness.

Carotid intima‐media thickness (CIMT), or the thickness of the inner layers of the arterial wall, is often used to assess cardiovascular disease risk because its location (the neck) is easily accessible with a simple ultrasound. It’s important because thickening of the carotid artery is almost 100% associated with thickening of the arteries around the heart.

It’s important to understand that a key to this study is the importance of improving both the clinical status and the microbial status of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a complex oral biofilm disease. By addressing the microbial aspect of periodontal disease, it is shown that one can reduce the rate of progression of carotid intima media thickness.

And if addressing periodontal disease slows the progression of thickening of the carotid artery, and the carotid artery almost always mirrors the thickness of the arteries around the heart, this research is illuminating a significant pathway in the connection between oral health and cardiovascular disease.

This is just another in a long line of studies that demonstrates how the healthcare communities can have a great impact working together, communicating and coordinating goals to address inflammatory disease.


Changes in Clinical and Microbiological Periodontal Profiles Relate to Progression of Carotid Intima‐Media Thickness: The Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study
Prediction of Clinical Cardiovascular Events With Carotid Intima-Media Thickness