Cardiovascular health

Periodontal disease and cardiovascular risk


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PI Bertelsen is workpackage-leader in a researcher project which started in June 2021: «Oral health in adults: predictors, social gradients and correlation with cardiovascular health in women and men». The project is based at the reserach unit at Oral Health Center of Expertise (TK Vestland) where Randi Bertelsen has a researcher affiliation.

The project has received funding from the Research Council of Norway from the funding scheme “Collaborative project to meet challenges in society and business” and partners in the project include Vestland County Municipality, The National Association for Public Health, the Association of Teeth and Health, and the University of Bergen.

The main purpose of the project is to look at the connection between oral health, cardiovascular health, socio-economic status and lifestyle factors. Research data are collected from participants in the population surveys in Hordaland (HUSK 1-3). The add-on survey, HUSK dental health, which started in 2020, provided information on oral health and included bacterial sampling from the oral cavity (gingiva and saliva). The work package that Bertelsen will lead will study the association between bacteria in the oral cavity and cardiovascular health.

We have finalized the sequencing of the gingival samples (gingival fluid from between the tooth and the gums) and are describing which bacteria are presnt in the samples. More than 700 bacterial species have been described in the human oral cavity and an average of 2-300 types of bacteria will be present in one single sample.

Some bacteria can cause inflammation that can - if left untreated - cause gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis. If the mucosa in the oral cavity are breached bacteria from the oral cavity can reach distant organs through the blood. Oral bacteria have for instance been detected in cardiovascular plaque. 

Bacteria samples from about 1200 participants in HUSK Dental survey have been analyzed with shot gun sequencing. We are currently looking into how periodontitis status and severity are linked to specific microbiome profiles and if the bacterial composition can affect risk factors for cardiovascular disease and inflammation markers in blood. 

More about the study can be found here (in Norwegian only)