Dental infection and vascular disease
The Cellular and Molecular Pathology Research Unit, Department of Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine, The University of Sydney, Westmead Centre for Oral Health, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory response to bacterial plaque in which the anchoring bone and soft tissues supporting teeth are destroyed, resulting in tooth mobility and loss. Dental caries involves the spread of infection from the dentine to the vascular dental pulp and periapical bony tissues, before involvement of adjacent soft tissues and spreading sepsis. Several case-controlled, cross-sectional, and cohort studies report correlation between periodontitis and increased cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral artery disease, as determined by clinical disease, angiography, ultrasonography, and reduced flow-mediated dilation. Some studies report a similar relationship of atherosclerosis with periapical infection and potentially also with coronal caries, and this review identifies the need to investigate these associations further. Smoking and cadmium exposure are epidemiologically confounding environmental risk factors shared by atherosclerosis and periodontitis. Further complicating epidemiological studies are the risk factors for both atherosclerosis and periodontitis, with which periodontitis appears to have separate positive feedback relationships. These include diabetes, increased plasma lipid levels, hypertension, and white blood cell count. Animal and human intervention studies provide some direct support of a causal role for periodontitis in atherosclerosis, and possible mechanisms include bacterial invasion of arteries, specific atherogenic properties of oral bacteria, the acute phase response, and cytokine polymorphisms.
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