What if we could identify early signs of cardiovascular disease from a simple saliva sample? This is what American scientists suggest. According to them, gum inflammation is an early indicator of poor arterial health.
Scientists have identified a link between high white blood cell counts in the saliva of healthy young adults and a warning sign of early cardiovascular disease
Inflammation factors linked to less “elastic” arteries
Periodontitis is a common gum infection that has previously been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. This time, scientists at Mount Royal University go further by suggesting that inflammatory factors in the gums can damage the vascular system via the circulation.
To explore this link, Dr. Trevor King’s team followed healthy young people without periodontal problems to determine if low levels of oral inflammation may be clinically relevant to cardiovascular health. The scientists recruited 28 non-smokers between the ages of 18 and 30, with no comorbidities or medications that could affect cardiovascular risk and no reported history of periodontal disease. They were asked to fast for six hours, excluding drinking water, before going to the lab.
In the lab, participants rinsed their mouths with water before rinsing their mouths with a saline solution that was collected for analysis. Participants then lay down for 10 minutes for an EKG and remained lying down for an additional 10 minutes for scientists to take their blood pressure, flow-mediated dilation (known as FMD which measures the relaxation of the arteries ) and the pulse wave velocity (which measures the stiffness of the arteries). Stiff and poorly functioning arteries increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Result: a high level of white blood cells (an indicator of gum inflammation) in saliva had a significant relationship with poor FMD, suggesting that these people may be at high risk for cardiovascular disease. However, there was no relationship between white blood cells and pulse wave velocity, so longer-term impacts on artery health had yet to occur.
A bramble test to be carried out routinely?
Scientists have hypothesized that inflammation in the mouth, infiltrating the vascular system, impacts the arteries’ ability to produce nitric oxide that allows them to respond to changes in blood flow. Higher white blood cell counts may have a greater impact on vascular dysfunction; the levels found in participants are generally not considered clinically significant.
This study therefore confirms the link between oral health and the risk of cardiovascular disease even in young healthy individuals. She therefore pleads in favor of good dental hygiene, even the implementation of a new simple test.
“The mouth rinsing test could be used during your annual checkup with the family doctor or dentist“said Dr. Michael Glogauer of the University of Toronto, co-author of the study.”It is easy to implement as an oral inflammation measurement tool in any clinic“.
Nevertheless, this pilot study will need to be completed by including more people with gingivitis and more advanced periodontitis to better understand the impact of different levels of gingival inflammation on cardiovascular health.