Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

No Proof Found That Gum Disease Causes Heart Disease or Stroke

(I will continue to floss, tho, for the sake of my gums.  However it is a relief to know there is one less thing to think about when it comes to heart health)

From the 18th April 2012 article at Science Daily article

Despite popular belief, gum disease hasn’t been proven to cause atherosclerotic heart disease or stroke, and treating gum disease hasn’t been proven to prevent heart disease or stroke, according to a new scientific statement published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal.

Keeping teeth and gums healthy is important for your overall health. However, an American Heart Association expert committee — made up of cardiologists, dentists and infectious diseases specialists — found no conclusive scientific evidence that gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, causes or increases the rates of cardiovascular diseases. Current data don’t indicate whether regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease can cut the incidence of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Observational studies have noted associations between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, but the 500 journal articles and studies reviewed by the committee didn’t confirm a causative link.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there,” said Peter Lockhart, D.D.S., co-chair of the statement writing group and professor and chair of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. “The message sent out by some in healthcare professions that heart attack and stroke are directly linked to gum disease, can distort the facts, alarm patients and perhaps shift the focus on prevention away from well known risk factors for these diseases.”

Gum disease and cardiovascular disease both produce markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein, and share other common risk factors as well, including cigarette smoking, age and diabetes mellitus . These common factors may help explain why diseases of the blood vessels and mouth occur in tandem. Although several studies appeared to show a stronger relationship between these diseases, in those studies researchers didn’t account for the risk factors common to both diseases….

“We already know that some people are less proactive about their cardiovascular health than others. Individuals who do not pay attention to the very powerful and well proven risk factors, like smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure, may not pay close attention to their oral health either” Lockhart said.  [Janice's emphasis]

Statements that imply a cause and effect relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, or claim that dental treatment may prevent heart attack or stroke are “unwarranted,” at this time, the statement authors said.

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs agrees with the conclusions of this report. The statement has been endorsed by the World Heart Federation.

 

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dried licorice root fights the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease (with related alternative medicine links)

From the 4th January 2012 Science Daily article

Scientists are reporting identification of two substances in licorice — used extensively in Chinese traditional medicine — that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth loss in children and adults. In a study in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, they say that these substances could have a role in treating and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Stefan Gafner and colleagues explain that the dried root of the licorice plant is a common treatment in Chinese traditional medicine, especially as a way to enhance the activity of other herbal ingredients or as a flavoring. Despite the popularity of licorice candy in the U.S., licorice root has been replaced in domestic candy with anise oil, which has a similar flavor. Traditional medical practitioners use dried licorice root to treat various ailments, such as respiratory and digestive problems, but few modern scientific studies address whether licorice really works. (Consumers should check with their health care provider before taking licorice root because it can have undesirable effects and interactions with prescription drugs.) To test whether the sweet root could combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, the researchers took a closer look at various substances in licorice.

They found that two of the licorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were the most effective antibacterial substances. These substances killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that promote gum disease. One of the compounds — licoricidin — also killed a third gum disease bacterium. The researchers say that these substances could treat or even prevent oral infections.

Related Resources

  • Drugs and Supplements (sponsored by the Mayo Clinic)
    Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals.  

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

  • HerbMed® 
    an interactive, electronic herbal database – provides hyperlinked access to the scientific data underlying the use of herbs for health. It is an impartial, evidence-based information resource provided by the nonprofit Alternative Medicine Foundation, Inc. This public site provides access to 20 of the most popular herbs.
  • Herbs at a Glance (US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)
    a series of fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.
  • Herbal Links
    a compilation of  sites that the researchers at the University of Iowa Drug Information Service consider to be the highest quality and most useful to pharmacists for finding information concerning herbal medicines.

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Your Mouth is a Health Barometer

Health Tip: Your Mouth is a Health Barometer
Oral problems may be tied to other medical issues

From the December 16 2010 Health Day news item by Diana Kohnle

Oral health problems, such as gum disease or mouth sores, can be related to other health issues.

The womenshealth.gov Web site says these health conditions often are related to oral health problems:

  • Cancer treatments, which can cause mouth sores and mouth pain.
  • Diabetes, which can affect the gums.
  • HIV, which can cause pain in the mouth and loss of taste.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, as difficulty eating can lead to malnutrition.
  • Heart disease patients may require special precautions, such as taking an antibiotic to prevent infection before a dental procedure.

Related Web Sites

  • Mouth Disorders (MedlinePlus) has links to overviews, specific conditions , health check tools, patient handouts, and more
  • Mouth Problems (Family Doctor.org) gives information about possible diagnoses and self care options depending on symptoms
  • Mouth Diseases (NetWellness.org) has links to general information, symptoms, tests, and treatment.
    Ask-An-Expert (left column) has answers to questions as tongue soreness, red bumps on tongue, and much more.
    Visitors can pose questions to medical experts, replies usually within a few days.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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