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Periodontal surgery and your heart

There’s a new study that points to the risk of a heart episode during invasive dental treatment, such as periodontal surgery (operating on the gums).  It’s really important to read beyond the headlines and sound bites.

As Liam Smeeth, the study’s researcher, pointed out, the risk is small.  “Overall, the study provides more evidence that inflammation and infection may be triggers for cardiovascular events.  I’m pretty certain that the long-term treatment is far more beneficial for people than this very small increase (in risk) that we see just after the treatment.”

Overall, we can distill expert opinion on cardiovascular implications into one key conclusion:  it’s periodontal disease, not the surgery to treat it, that is linked to cardiovascular problems.

●     Periodontitis can be one of the key risk factors in the onset of cardiovascular disease.  Several studies have reported that periodontal bacteria in cardiovascular specimens were detected frequently.

●     The direct  association between oral disease and atherogenesis (the degeneration of the arteries) is still being studied; more work has to be done to confirm that oral disease is a direct cause of atherogenesis.

●     What we do know:  whether or not periodontal disease directly causes cardiovascular disease, when we treat periodontal issues, we reduce inflammation and its burdens – thus improving overall systemic health.  The negative environmental factors, like lack of good oral hygiene, that exacerbate periodontal issues relate directly to the inflammation that aggravates cardiovascular problems.

Chronic periodontal disease is widespread in the general population, and a significant proportion of adults suffer from the most severe form of the disease.  The more we treat it, the better chance we have of preserving our overall health.

That’s a sound bite we should remember.

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This post was written by who has written 12 posts on The Practice SF Blog.

Paola Guglielmoni, DDS, MS, is a periodontist and a partner in The Practice SF. She earned her dental degree in her native Italy and worked as a general dentist in Genova. Dr. Guglielmoni moved to the USA and received her DDS from Loma Linda University where she also completed her Certificate in Periodontics and Masters Degree in Oral Biology. She has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Periodontology at UCSF. Dr. Guglielmoni is a member of several professional organizations including The American Dental Association, The American Academy of Periodontics, The Academy of Osseointegration, and the California Society of Periodontists.

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