Editor’s blog 6: The evidence we wanted

Hello to you all once again\. I’m back this week with another blog and the news story I have been waiting for since I first found out about the subject of systemic diseases and the link to periodontitis.

I want to get right into this news story because it has fascinated me since I first entered the dental industry as a journalist. I attended a Colgate-Palmolive sponsored event to raise awareness that a new report, associating gum disease and other systemic diseases involving inflammatory processes such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes, has been published.

For the first time in the UK, a multidisciplinary group of experts in the field of cardiology, endocrinology and periodontology reviewed the latest clinical evidence to examine the emerging evidence for an association between periodontitis and systemic conditions. In addition to finding a potential link between periodontitis and increased likelihood of CVD, the group found that periodontitis is also often more severe in subjects whit diabetes mellitus, a group already at increased risk for cardiovascular events.

The authors conclude that current evidence suggest periodontitis is associated with an increased risk for CVD and diabetes. Primary care practitioners are also actively encourage within the report to educate their patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth for conferring potential public health benefits.

Dr Ray Williams, a leading periodontist in the USA at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry and lead author of the report, said: ‘There is an urgent need for dentists and physicians to work more closely together in understanding and improving patient health. The promotion of good oral health, as part of better overall health care should be seen as a natural extension of current healthy lifestyle messages around diet, exercise and the cessation of smoking, which are designed to help reduce the burden of CVD and diabetes.’

The fact that a groups of experts across a variety of disciplines have got together to properly look at this is incredibly encouraging news. The report itself is a very interesting read and establishes some clear results, however there is room to want more research, as Dr Tony Jenner, Deputy Chief Dental Officer for England commented: ‘The Department of Health launched Delivering Better Oral Health – An evidence-based toolkit for prevention in September 2007. The document, intended for use throughout dental care services, aims to provide practical evidence-based guidance to help promote oral health and prevent oral disease. We welcome this new report and it reinforces the current drive for greater emphasis on the prevention of ill-health and reduction of inequalities of health by the giving of advice and application of evidence-informed actions. It is important that the whole dental team, as well as other healthcare workers, give consistent messages and that those messages are up to date and correct. This literature review does however identify a lack of prospective studies at the point in time linking periodontal disease with CVD and until such studies have taken place we should be cautious in attributing a causal effect.’

I personally think Dr Jenner is completely right. I honestly believe that this sort of cooperation between disciplines can only yield more enlightening discoveries and the sooner the better.

I hope you found this story as fascinating as I did. You can read the full story in Preventive Dentistry‘s next issue. Until next week, take care of yourselves and get talking about this incredible report.

Tom Roberts

Managing Editor

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