Scientists are working to develop a screening tool to detect oral bacteria that can lead to possibly life-threatening heart problems. Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist Dr. Alex Farnoosh explains the connection between the heart and oral health.
Beverly Hills, California (March 2012) – It is widely known that bacteria build-up in the mouth can lead to tooth loss, halitosis and even more severe complications, such as periodontal disease, but scientists have recently discovered a protein in bacteria that enable it to enter the bloodstream and infect the heart, possibly leading to potentially fatal endocarditis.
Microbiologists at University of Rochester Medical Center have identified the protein, CNM, in Streptococcus mutans and are working to develop a screening protocol to find the microbe before it has the opportunity to cause harm.
“Easily performed tests like a mouth swab or spit test can detect the bacteria and identify which patients are vulnerable to the condition,” says Dr. Alex Farnoosh, a Beverly Hills periodontist. “This would allow me and other dental professionals to take greater care of our patients and prevent potentially lethal heart problems.”
Usually, S.mutans limits its activity to the mouth, but in some cases it can also contain the protein CNM that gives the bacteria the ability to invade heart tissues by entering the bloodstream during a dental procedure or even vigorous flossing that causes the gums to bleed. A normal immune system usually destroys the bacteria in the blood stream, but in rare cases it can travel to the heart and root itself in the heart valves, leading to an inflammation of the heart valves also known as endocarditis.
As a specialist and pioneer in many revolutionary cosmetic dental procedures, such as his lip lowering procedure to tackle a gummy smile and gum bleaching, Beverly Hills periodontist Dr. Farnoosh is concerned about protecting his patients during these and more advanced procedures.
“As a specialist in cosmetic procedures, giving my patients a perfect smile is just as important to me as maintaining oral health to ensure a lifetime of beautiful smiles,” Dr. Farnoosh says. “Being able to screen for such problems allows for dental professionals to be at the frontline in combating the problem.”
Scientists at the university’s Center for Oral Biology have been making great strides toward understanding the CNM protein. Recently they have been able to isolate the gene responsible for allowing the bacteria to gain a foothold in the heart tissue. This discovery could be the beginning of new advancements in pre-screening patients for other oral problems associated with bacteria and perhaps even diseases to prevent and detect more complicated issues.
Find out how Dr. Farnoosh provides excellent gum treatment as part of his patients’ smile makeovers when you schedule an appointment online or call (310) 657-0503 to set up a consultation.