April 18, 2012
Oral Bacteria Harm Joints And Blood Vessels

Got enough bacteria in your mouth to cause gum bleeding when you (not often enough) floss or brush your teeth? Oral bacteria that get into the blood mess up joints.

The culprit behind a failed hip or knee replacements might be found in the mouth. DNA testing of bacteria from the fluid that lubricates hip and knee joints had bacteria with the same DNA as the plaque from patients with gum disease and in need of a joint replacement.

This study is one of many coming from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine that have linked oral bacteria to health problems when they escape from the mouth and enter the blood.

Keep your teeth and gums clean in order to protect your joints and blood vessels.

Inflammatory gum disease causes plaque build-up in blood vessels which is mediated by a protein found in blood cells.

A protein involved in cellular inflammation may increase the risk of plaque containing blood vessels associated with inflammatory gum disease, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2012 Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

The protein, CD36, is found in blood cells, as well as many other cell types. Research has shown that CD36 may increase the harmful effects of "bad cholesterol," or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

Investigators "knocked out," or deleted, the gene responsible for CD36 production, then induced plaque in blood vessels by feeding mice a high fat diet. Some animals were also infected with the bacteria associated with gum disease.

More fatty plaque accumulation occurred in the blood vessels of the animals that were infected with gum disease. In the animals with the deleted CD36 gene, however, vessels remained free of new plaque even when oral inflammation occurred.

Want to live longer? Floss regularly.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 April 18 10:23 PM  Aging Bones Joints Studies

James Bowery said at April 19, 2012 8:21 AM:

But don't share that floss sword with someone who has had Type I (oral) herpes simplex virus -- the kind that about 40% of the population carries around. Of course, you wouldn't do that would you? But you might get oral herpes, with its regular flare-ups of inflammation, in other ways, even if you floss like the dickens.

hamerhokie said at April 19, 2012 8:23 AM:

All the more reason for someone to invent anti-bacterial gum.

Placebo said at April 19, 2012 12:17 PM:

Looks like someone beat us to inventing anti-bacterial gum ...

"The Wrigley Gum Company has paired up with the U.S. military to create an anti-bacterial chewing gum that actually cleans teeth so soldiers wouldn't have to stop what they're doing to brush their pearly whites."

PacRim Jim said at April 19, 2012 10:30 PM:

Since there are hundreds of strains of bacteria in one's mouth, I can't imagine a marker that would be of any use.
Also, it would be undesirable to kill all bacteria in one's mouth--which is impossible anyway--since it would kill bacteria that block entry into your tissues by undesirable strains of bacteria.
Face it, humans couldn't live without bacteria. A healthy flora is optimal.

Mthson said at April 19, 2012 11:52 PM:

Researchers were having success with uncommon strains of mouth bacteria that can kill off common cavity-causing strains and then provide the same benefits, so we wouldn't need to brush our teeth except when desired. People who already have those better strains of bacteria have lower cavity rates.

That research was several years ago.

Russ said at April 20, 2012 7:18 AM:


I was thinking of that, but lately I've not been able to find any hint of it. Any idea why it's off the radar?

Dave B said at April 22, 2012 11:46 AM:

Oops, that darn American Heart Association:"...not able to find any real scientific evidence that periodontal disease causes atherosclerosis...", released 4/18/2012.


Mthson said at April 22, 2012 12:21 PM:


It does seem strange that there hasn't been any more news on replacing mouth bacteria.

I wonder... could more research show that it's possible to get the materials and do some version of it ourselves? It seems like it could be the kind of thing that just gets forgotten because of bureaucracy and mass inertia.

Maybe answers could be found by posting on a forum for dentists, or finding a dentist who takes an active intellectual interest in the cutting edge of their profession.

Seerak said at April 22, 2012 2:17 PM:

Simpler solution: minimize ingestion of sugars and simple carbs, which turn S. mutans from just one of hundreds of bacteria in the mouth into a plaque and cavity factory.

jkl said at April 22, 2012 2:21 PM:

Last week another study affirmed that the extreme use of antibacterial causes blood diseases associated with pain in junctures and low levels of plaquetes.

egk said at April 25, 2012 6:51 PM:

xylitol is supposed to feed the "good" oral bacteria, while sorbitol feeds the "bad"

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