The most common diseases of humankind are oral infections, which are also a key risk factor for heart disease, the worldwide leading cause of death. In an April 16 article published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism researchers discuss the link between heart disease and oral infections.

The most common oral infections are periodontal diseases including periodontitis and gingivitis, which are chronic and inflammatory, and cavities. Research has shown links between periodontitis and stroke in men and younger people. Further, there is strong evidence that inflammation in oral infections plays a strong role in cardiovascular disease as well. Senior author Thomas Van Dyke of the Forsyth Institute says, “Given the high prevalence of oral infections, any risk they contribute to future cardiovascular disease is important to public health.” “Unravelling the role of the oral microbiome and inflammation in cardiovascular disease will likely lead to new preventive and treatment approaches.”

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen have been found to produce substantial cardiovascular side effects, so it is very important to find alternative therapies. One such therapy is a high dose of atorvastatin, which is commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol. Atorvastatin increases lipoxins and resolvins and prevents cardiovascular and periodontal inflammation. “New discoveries of natural pathways that resolve inflammation have offered many opportunities for revealing insights into disease pathogenesis and for developing new pharmacological targets for the treatment of both oral infections and cardiovascular disease,” says Van Dyke.

As future studies continue to look for effective inflammation-reducing therapies, Van Dyke recommends maintaining good oral hygiene in the meantime. “The majority of diseases and conditions of aging, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, have a major inflammatory component that can be made worse by the presence of periodontitis,” he says. “Periodontitis is not just a dental disease, and it should not be ignored, as it is a modifiable risk factor.”

Source of story:

Cell Press. (2015, April 16). Connection between mouth bacteria, inflammation in heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 12, 2015 from