Inflammation is a hot topic, as it is a key process for systemic disease in the body. It has been recently in the news that cardiovascular disease and diabetes are closely associated with periodontal disease (gum disease).
How is gum disease affecting your heart and kidneys? Well, the answer is cytokines, chemicals that your body produces in response to tissue damage. They are part of a big orchestra that conducts the process of inflammation. Inflammation is just your body’s immune response to tissue damage and cytokines are the conductor that tells the different members where, when, and how to play.
Although cytokines do have a protective function, they also cause a cascade of other chemical mediators to cause things like pus, swelling, pain, fever, ect. One of those things causes the liver to produce C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP has been linked to reduced renal function and increased risk for heart attacks. Patients with severe periodontal disease have twice the normal risk for a stroke and cardiovascular disease (Grau AJ et al. Stroke.2004:35(2):496-501)(Paquette D. The periodontal-cardiovascular link. Compendium of Continuing Education. 2004;25:681-692).
The good news is that treatment of gum disease will reduce the level of CRP in the blood stream over time.