Cholesterol Therapy May Help Reduce Periodontal Disease Risk

Patients who take statins to lower their cholesterol may be receiving added protection for their periodontal health as well, say Finnish researchers.

The researchers, who say that more than half of all adults have some degree of periodontal inflammation or gingivitis, studied 100 patients age 40 and older who were treated for advanced periodontal disease at the University Dental Clinic, Health Centre of Helsinki.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

Study participants who were taking statins had about 37 percent fewer periodontal pockets and about 43 percent overall less inflammation than those who were not taking the medications. Among nonsmoking patients, statin users had 64 percent less inflammation.

“Untreated periodontal pockets may serve as a source of persistent medium-grade inflammation with systemic consequences, although the inflammation is milder and more local than in, for instance, rheumatoid arthritis,” said researchers in the article.

The research suggests that periodontal disease may contribute to cardiovascular disease by increasing the inflammatory burden on the body. The scientists noted that their results may lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches for treating periodontal disease.

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