Periodontal pathogen Treponema denticola is quickly being recognized as a significant player in heart disease, and a new study suggests the relationship may be causal.
Research published in Infection & Immunity found that chronic T. denticola infection is significantly associated with the rapid progression of atheroma in ApoE-null mice. This link, according to the study authors, appears to be causal.
An atheroma, also referred to as plaque, is a fatty deposit in the lining of the artery wall. Atheromas are associated with recurrent cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.
“T. denticola infection altered the expression of genes known to be involved in atherosclerotic development, including the leukocyte/endothelial cell adhesion gene, the connective tissue growth factor gene, and the selectin-E gene.”
This means that a patient with an active oral infection with T. denticola may be on a faster track to heart problems than if he or she had a healthy mouth.
T. denticola is a virulent oral pathogen that has been shown to translocate from the mouth to the joints, brain, and has even been found in arterial plaque. T. denticola has recently been associated with low HDL and high triglycerides, both indicators of increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
Whether or not this causal association can be replicated in humans, it is clear that this pathogen and its cohorts (e.g. P. gingivalis and F. nucleatum), cause significant problems, both in the oral cavity and throughout the body.
If we overlook the mouth in our pursuit of health and wellness, we are overlooking one of the major influences of most inflammatory diseases. Studies like this show that oral health should not be overlooked as an integral portion of inflammatory disease prevention.