November 06, 2013
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Improved periodontal health decreased atherosclerosis progression

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Improvement in periodontal clinical and microbiological status appears to be linked to decreased progression of carotid atherosclerosis.

In the INVEST study, researchers tested the hypothesis that periodontal infections predispose to accelerated progression of carotid atherosclerosis and, subsequently, CVD.

Researchers analyzed 420 participants (mean age, 68 years; 62% women; 60% Hispanic) for longitudinal change in clinical periodontal status and progression of intima-medial thickness of the carotid artery. They collected as many as eight subgingival bacterial plaque samples from participants at baseline and at follow-up (median 3 years). They also performed carotid ultrasounds on participants at baseline and at follow-up.

According to results, longitudinal change in either mean probing depth or mean attachment loss — both measures of periodontal health — was positively associated with change in intima-medial thickness of the carotid artery.

The mean common carotid artery intima-medial thickness increased as follows in relation to clinical periodontal status as measured by percentage of sites with ≥3 mm probing depth (Pfor trend<.0001):

  • By 0.18 mm in the quartile with the least improvement in clinical periodontal status.
  • By 0.16 mm in the quartile with the second-least improvement.
  • By 0.14 mm in the quartile with the second-best improvement.
  • By 0.07 mm in the quartile with the best improvement.

The mean common carotid artery intima-medial thickness increased as follows in relation to periodontal microbial status as measured by 3-year change in proportion of etiologic bacteria (P<.0001):

  • By 0.2 mm in the quartile with the least improvement in periodontal microbial status.
  • By 0.18 mm in the quartile with the second-least improvement.
  • By 0.15 mm in the quartile with the second-best improvement.
  • By 0.12 mm in the quartile with the best improvement.

“These results are important because atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums,” Moïse Desvarieux, MD, PhD, of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said in a press release. “This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.