SAN DIEGO -- A study of a group of Germans conducted by researchers in the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine suggests that the relationship between gum disease and cardiovascular disease may be a common phenomenon in developed countries.
The study, presented here today (March 7, 2002) at the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) meeting, found periodontal disease bacteria in samples of fatty plaque removed from the carotid arteries of 106 German subjects undergoing a procedure to unclog the large arteries in the neck.
The bacteria were the same types as those found in carotid plaque from an earlier study of U.S. residents. In a related study using a subset of samples from the German cohort, rather than looking for evidence of particular oral bacteria using specific probes, researchers cast a broad net, gathering many pieces of DNA and matched their gene sequences with known pathogens.
They identified a number of different bacteria in the carotid samples, a finding that supports the "infectious burden" hypothesis proposed by scientists, which postulates a relationship between the number of infections an individual experiences and the risk for developing atherosclerotic plaques.
UB dental researchers have been at the forefront of research showing a link between the bacterial inflammation of periodontal disease and coronary disease. They currently are involved in a $7.3 million effort funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to plan and conduct a pilot study for a clinical trial of the impact of periodontal disease treatment on prevention of second heart attacks.
Samples of plaque for both studies were obtained from patients with chronic periodontal disease who were undergoing endarterectomy, the process of cleaning away fatty plaque from the walls of the carotid arteries, the large vessels on either side of in the neck.