suggest that periodontal disease is an important risk factor for heart disease. Other
known risk factors include age, smoking, diabetes, hypetension and hypercholestemia.
Chronic, gram negative anaerobic infections may represent a previously unrecognized
risk factor for atherosclerosis and thromboembolic events. An underlying inflammatory
response trait may place an individual at high risk for both periodontal disease and
atherosclerosis. There is a biologic burden of bacterial endotoxins and inflammatory
cytokines resulting from established periodontal infections. These may initiate and
exacerbate atherosclerosis and thromboembolic events. Additionionally, a known periodontal
pathogen, porphyromonas gingivalis has been isolated from arteriosclerotic plaques. A
review of several studies indicates that patients with periodontitis have a 1.5 to 2.0
fold greater risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease event than patients without
Thromboembolic events such as myocardial infarction and stroke can occur following
bacteremia. Periodontal disease has been shown to induce episodes of significant
bacteremias. Streptococcus sanguis and Porphyromonas gingivalis have been demonstrated to
cause platelets to aggregate upon contact with bacteria. The resultant bacterially induced
platelet aggregates can form the emboli which are responsible for the acute MI or stroke.
Approximately 58 million Americans, or 1 in 5, suffer from cardiovascular disease.
According to The American Heart Association, it is the leading cause of death in The
United States. In light of this new information, the need to eliminate periodontal
infection takes on a heightened role.